Licensed aircraft mechanical engineer, Ronaldo Salazar, was employed by John Holland Aviation Services until his employment was terminated in December 2013 .
Throughout the course of 2013, Salazar had been involved in a series of disputes with his employer about his work roster. Those disputes culminated in Mr Slazar forming the view that John Holland was attempting to deliberately cause harm to both him and his family.
In a series of emails to his employer, Salazar warned that he intended to take his story to Today Tonight, A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, and even Kevin Rudd. The John Holland Group considered those emails to be “threatening” and summarily dismissed Mr Salazar for serious misconduct.
Mr Salazar commenced unfair dismissal proceedings in the Fair Work Commission on the basis that his dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable. In particular, he sought to convince the Commission that his dismissal was unfair because he was mentally ill at the time of writing the offending emails, and that the company was aware of both his medication, illnesses and symptoms.
Commissioner Ryan found that:
“The actions of the Applicant in interacting with the Respondent during 2013 must be considered in light of the continuing mental health issues suffered by the Applicant. Additionally I note that the Applicant’s use of the English language in both his oral and written communications suffers from a lack of clarity and precision. The combination of a mental health issue and somewhat poor English language skills would have impacted on the communications between the Applicant and the Respondent. It does not appear that the Respondent had sufficient regard to this when dealing with the Applicant.”
The Commissioner went on to conclude that the dismissal was unfair and awarded undisclosed compensation to Mr Salazar along with the full redundancy pay he would have received if he had remained employed until the rest of his crew were made redundant shortly after his dismissal.