Via Workplace express (paywall protected):
A state manager sacked for being drunk at a staff training conference the morning after a work-related function has won $296,650 in damages, after a court took into account his company’s approach to drinking in finding his behaviour did not amount to gross misconduct.
NSW District Court Judge Philip Taylor accepted the Willis Australia Group Services Pty Ltd manager was “at least to some extent” drunk when he arrived at the conference — his “workplace at the time” — at 9am after drinking into the early hours and sleeping on a bench near his hotel door because he couldn’t find his key.
The judge also accepted he smelt of alcohol, spoke loudly, “lacked seriousness”, threw a lolly and made “animal noises”, though as a “means of conveying information about a recent safari”.
But the judge said while the insurance company had proved the manager’s misconduct, it had not proved gross misconduct.
“A proper reading of the contract of employment, including the Willis policies, read in the context of Willis practices in relation to alcohol, indicates that intoxication at work, of itself, is not sufficient to warrant summary dismissal for a gross misconduct,” the judge said.