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Full bench confirms fair sacking of truck driver
 

A Full Bench of Fair Work Australia (FWAFB) has confirmed that the dismissal of an employee was fair after a tracking device revealed that he exceeded the speed limit 24 times during a single trip while driving the company truck.

The employee was employed as a line-haul driver and regularly drove between Melbourne and Tarcutta. The prime mover that the employee was driving had a speed inhibitor connected to it which limited the prime mover’s speed to no more than 100 km/h. The employee was aware of how to disable the speed inhibitor and had done so.

The employer fitted the trailer attached to the prime mover that the employee was driving, with a CoolTrax system. The system’s main function monitored the condition of a refrigerated trailer but was also capable of monitoring the trailer’s location and allowed reporting of speed and direction. The system then reported the data from the GPS chip at five-minute intervals recording both the average and maximum speed over the five-minute period.

The employee was dismissed after the CoolTrax system reported that he had exceeded 110 km/h on at approximately 24 occasions on a single trip. The employer claimed that the employee’s maximum speed at one stage was 129.6 km/h. The employer further claimed that the employee had disabled the speed inhibitor.

The employee claimed that the speeds identified in the GPS were not accurate and that there were deficiencies in the data that the employer had relied upon to dismiss the employee. The employee furthermore claimed that the employer was obliged to advise him that the CoolTrax system was fitted to the truck which they had failed to do.

It was held that the employer was not obliged to advise the employee of the CoolTrax system as it did not constitute a tracking device as defined under the Victorian Surveillance Devices Act. The fact that the device could determine the locality of the truck was “purely incidental” to its main function.

The full bench found that the employer had a valid reason to terminate the employee’s employment based on the fact that the employee had disabled the speed inhibitor for the prime mover that he was driving and furthermore, that he had exceeded speeds of 100 km/h.

The employee was notified of the reasons for his dismissal and given a fair opportunity in which to respond. The full bench accordingly held that the termination of employment was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable given the nature of the valid reason for the termination.

Rand Transport (1986) Pty Ltd v Mr Glenn Gervasoni [2010] FWAFB 2526 (30 March 2010).

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