Drugs and Porn – worker fights claim of serious misconduct

An ICT employee has lost a battle over his dismissal in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) after his employer ended his employment for serious misconduct.

Reasons for dismissal

The employer, Ziegam Pty Ltd, alleged that the employee, Mr Prosser, had:

  • distributed drugs in the workplace
  • links to pornographic websites and movies in his One Drive account (cloud based storage)
  • logged into a director’s computer in order to obtain confidential information which was then forwarded to his wife

What the FWC found

Commissioner Simpson of the FWC turned first to the allegations that Mr Prosser had attempted to supply and/or procure illicit drugs in the workplace. However, the Commissioner found there was not sufficient evidence to demonstrate Mr Prosser was in possession of, or was distributing illicit drugs in the workplace. The Commission did accept the allegations that Mr Prosser had provided prescription drugs to his colleague, Mr Borg. That act alone constituted a valid reason for dismissal.

Mr Prosser claimed he had put the pornography on his One Drive because he found it on a shop computer and was going to bring it to his colleague’s attention. Commissioner Simpson found this to be implausible and did not accept that explanation.

The Commissioner also found on the balance of probabilities that the alleged security breaches, including obtaining confidential documents from the director’s desktop without her knowledge and forwarding that information outside the company, represented a ‘complete violation of the company’s trust and an abuse of Mr Prosser’s position as an IT officer’. Moreover, Commissioner Simpson found that these breaches constituted a valid reason for dismissal.

Prosser v Ziegam Pty Ltd [2019] FWC 676

ES can help

If your business is on the receiving end of an unfair dismissal claim, or if you just need help understanding your obligations under the Fair Work Act, give us a call on 07 3220 3500.