A Brisbane electrical business has been forced to pay a former apprentice $11,400 after falsely accusing him of theft and firing him.
Brisbane apprentice Jordan Lamacq has been awarded $11,400 in an unfair dismissal case against former employer, Smerff Electrical.
The case, brought to the Fair Work Commission in 2018, concluded on Monday in Brisbane with Commission Deputy President Ingrid Asbury describing Smerff Electrical’s dismissal process as “quite simply appalling”.
Hickey, who runs Smerff Electrical and refers to himself as the ‘Nazi Sparky’ on his website, fired Lamacq on 16 May 2018 after accusing him of theft and of misusing a company vehicle.
Hickey also said Lamacq had taken a cash job for a Smerff customer without his approval, using the company vehicle and tools, and demanded Lamacq share the address of the cash job or leave the company.
Hickey said Lamacq had carried out the cash job with a former employee who he also accused of thievery and whose details he also demanded.
While the Commission accepted Lamacq may have used company tools and the vehicle for the cash job, the Commission found the allegations of theft to be unfounded, and described Hickey’s language as “appalling”.
“No employee should ever be subjected to the threats and abuse meted out by Mr Hickey in his text messages and the email sent to Mr Lamacq between 14 and 16 May 2018,” Asbury said.
“That an employer would subject an employee, much less an apprentice, to such language beggars belief.”
Hickey had sent Lamacq an email threatening him with a theft conviction and warned that appealing to Fair Work would be fruitless.
The tendered email read: “Live and learn dumb c*nt. I never would have picked you as a thief but now I know better. Here’s the number for fair work Australia 13 13 94. Do you know how many calls they get per day? Boo Hoo this c*nt fired me and he wasn’t paying me leave loading 12% or some sh*t.”
“Do you know what these c*nts do about it? Nothing unless it’s a company worth prosecuting. They know they’ll get nothing from me and even if they could get me for something what would it be? Your wage which $7 over the award one year less difference in super they might tell me to owe you $30.”
Hickey also said in the email he “know[s] a lot of sparkies remember. And you have no idea which ones. Up yours…”
Asbury said the reasons for Lamacq’s dismissal were “within a spectrum” of valid reasons, but found that ultimately his dismissal was indefensible.
“Any legitimacy about the issues that Mr Hickey may have raised with Mr Lamacq is lost by virtue of being couched in terms so offensive that no employee should be expected to endure such treatment,” Asbury said.
She also noted that private use of the company car and tools had previously been allowed and Lamacq had not received an indication that the policy had changed.
She also found that Lamacq’s decision not to share the details of the cash job were insufficient grounds for dismissal, given the manner in which Hickey demanded the information.
And she said Lamacq was given insufficient opportunity to respond to Hickey’s allegations.
Pointing to the employment contract which reads, “If you are unhappy with your wage you can f*ck off,” Asbury said she had never come across a small business owner with “such a deplorable attitude to human resource management”.
Concluding, Asbury said there was no valid reason for dismissal.
“The manner in which the dismissal was carried out was devoid of procedural fairness and quite simply appalling,” she said.
“The dismissal was unjust because Mr Lamacq was not guilty of the misconduct alleged against him. The dismissal was unreasonable because it was decided on inferences that could not reasonably have been drawn from the material before the employer.”
Have you heard of the ‘Nazi Sparky’ before?
Possibly. The Brisbane Times reported in 2017 that Hickey was the sole corporate sponsor of a hugely popular neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer.
Hickey’s business logo features alt-right meme Pepe the Frog wearing an SS uniform and standing out the front of a cartoon Auschwitz.
The Daily Stormer confirmed Hickey’s sponsorship role in a response to The Brisbane Times article, describing Fairfax Media as “main pig filth,” and “Tel Aviv’s attack dog”.
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