Don’t dismiss correct dismissal procedure

Lessons learned after termination found unfair following the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruling on the case of Mr. Simon Ronchi v. Johns Lyng Group [2022] FWC 326."
Don’t dismiss correct dismissal procedure

Failures to check the correct steps before terminating an employee have caused expensive legal bills and a mixed result for a Melbourne company, as well as serving as a reminder for the employer – while you may have a valid reason for dismissing an employee, caution must be taken so the dismissal isn’t found to be procedurally unfair.

The case

It was on 27 July 2021 that commercial building services company Johns Lyng Group terminated employee Simon Ronchi for sending inappropriate text messages to his manager, engaging in work which conflicted with his duties under his employment contract and neglecting his duties.

Before deciding to terminate Ronchi’s employment, on 27 July 2021, Ronchi was invited to a meeting to discuss “some issues and concerns”. The meeting quickly escalated with Ronchi becoming defensive and aggressive. During the meeting, Ronchi also made derogatory comments about his employer insinuating improper business practices were common and known.

Ronchi was dismissed on the spot during the meeting and paid two weeks’ salary in lieu of notice. Ronchi subsequently lodged an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission. The Commission found that while there was a valid reason for Ronchi’s termination, the employer had failed to affect the termination in a procedurally fair manner. Despite inviting Ronchi to a meeting to discuss the “issues and concerns” the Commission was not satisfied that Ronchi was provided with a genuine opportunity to consider the seriousness of the allegations and the breadth of evidence against him, particularly in light of how the meeting escalated. The Commission stated that given the seriousness of the allegations and the breadth of evidence against him, Ronchi should have been provided with an opportunity to show cause why his employment should not be terminated instead of the employer allowing the meeting to escalate into a dismissal on the spot.

As a result, the Commission found that the termination of Ronchi’s employment was procedurally unfair and ordered the employer to pay Ronchi compensation in the amount of one week’s pay. The Commission said that this was equivalent to the time Ronchi would have likely remained in employment had the meeting on 27 July 2021 not escalated into a sudden dismissal.

Ronchi appealed the decision, however, his appeal was dismissed.

What can we learn?

Employers should always remember to engage in a robust and procedurally fair process when deciding to terminate an employee’s employment, even in circumstances where the reason for the employee’s termination is black and white.

The seriousness of an employee’s conduct, or performance, will not prove to be sufficient justification for a lack of procedural fairness.

Irrespective of whether there are valid grounds for dismissal, failure to adhere to adequate processes and procedures can potentially result in an employer’s losing an unfair dismissal claim.


If any of the information in this article has raised questions or concerns around termination or you have another workplace matter you need assistance with, please reach out to our experts here.

About our author

Amanda Curatore is a qualified Senior Associate at Citation Legal and Citation HR. Amanda is highly experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters including employment contracts, modern award interpretation, managing performance, bullying and harassment, terminations and managing risk. Amanda is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator through the Australian Mediation Association

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