The Australian Industrial Relations Commission has upheld an employer’s decision to dismiss an employee for drink driving outside working hours in his privately owned car. The employee, a process worker in a brewery, brought an unfair dismissal claim. He argued his drink driving did not damage the employment relationship or the company’s interests. He also argued the company failed to take into account his honesty in confessing to the incident, his length of service, and his sound employment record.
The Commission held the employer was entitled to rely on its Responsible Drinking Policy, which prohibited out-of-hours drink driving, because a company is entitled to create policies to protect its legitimate business interests. In this case, the employer sought legitimately to protect its reputation as a responsible producer of alcohol. The employee was trained in the policy and knew out-of-hours drink driving could lead to dismissal. He was also treated fairly in the process leading up to the dismissal. Accordingly, the dismissal was held not to be unfair.