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Employee unfairly sacked for refusing FINGERPRINT scanner

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A Queensland man has won an unfair dismissal appeal after his employer sacked him for refusing to use a new fingerprint system that recorded attendance.

The Fair Work Commission this week ruled that Jeremy Lee's termination was unfair and quashed a previous decision that let his employer Superior Wood off the hook.

Lee, who had worked casually for the company for more than 3 years, was sacked in February last year because he refused to use a fingerprint scanning system to sign on and sign off from his shifts.

The employee objected to the scanner as he claimed ownership of the biometric data that was his fingerprint.

"He submits that biometric data is sensitive personal information under the Privacy Act 1988; that Superior Wood was not entitled to require that information from him," the commission stated.

When a seven-week trial of the fingerprint system started in late 2017, Wood wrote to his employer to express his objections and continued to manually sign in and out.

"Mr Lee expressed concern about the control of his biometric data and the inability of Superior Wood to guarantee no third party access or use of that data once stored electronically. He was told the scanner implementation was proceeding, and that 'he had a decision to make'."

After the scanners were formally rolled out, the staffer tried to negotiate a way to continue in the job but retain ownership of the fingerprint data. But less than three weeks later Lee was sacked.

Fair Work Commission ruled that the company forcing their staff to use the fingerprint system was "unlawful".

"Superior Wood did not have a valid reason for the dismissal which related to Mr Lee’s capacity or conduct… We find that Mr Lee’s dismissal was unjust."

The remedial action required from Superior Wood has not yet been decided.

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