Unfair Dismissal: Somveer Narwal v Aldi Foods Pty Ltd [2012] FWA 2056

Somveer Narwal v Aldi Foods Pty Ltd [2012] FWA 2056

Mr Somveer Narwal was employed by Aldi as a Store Manager when he was summarily dismissed for misconduct involving 'dishonesty and theft', after having worked at the company for four years. Narwal subsequently applied for an unfair dismissal remedy pursuant to s394 of Fair Work Act 2009. The crux of the matter was whether Narwal's dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, according to s385(b) of the Fair Work Act 2009.

The facts of the matter are as follows: One night, after his shift, Narwal sought to purchase groceries from the Aldi store where he was employed, until he realised he had forgotten his wallet. Consequently he suspended the sale, took the goods with him and instructed for the docket to be left on his desk for him to pay the next working day. The following Monday the docket had mysteriously disappeared and presumably Mr Narwal forgot to pay for the groceries. His superiors watched him for two days to see if he would settle the outstanding debt, only bringing the issue to his attention before suspending him. On the third day he was given a brief opportunity to plead his case and was then summarily dismissed.

The judge held that Narwal's dismissal had no factual basis and was harsh, unjust and unreasonable. However it is important to note that Narwal's act was considered serious misconduct, and had it been dealt with properly by the employer, it would have been grounds for dismissal with notice. The judge ordered 12 weeks remuneration as compensation. This case illustrates how employers must be cautious about invoking summary dismissals. Moreover, where an employer is seen to condone an act and allows their employee to continue employment, they cannot then turn around and dismiss on this basis.

 * PCC Lawyers are a team of employment practitioners based in Sydney, with many years of combined knowledge and experience in workplace law, industrial relations, workplace investigations and training.  They provide a high standard of excellence and an exceptional level of personal service to a variety of clients in the Sydney metropolitan area, Central Coast, regional NSW and interstate.