A Sydney Ferries operator was ordered to rehire an "alpha male" employee who was fired for allegedly performing the chicken dance in a mocking move to his colleague.
The workplace tribunal ordered Sydney Ferries operator Harbour City Ferries to reinstate Timothy Redden, 51, after finding that performing the chicken dance was not a valid reason for dismissal.
Harbour City Ferries terminated Mr Redden's employment when it discovered he called his colleague a "dog" and, when his colleague ignored him, performed the chicken dance at him to imply he was a chicken for not retaliating. One of the two dances was captured on a CCTV.
In an unrelated incident the employer also found Mr Redden told another employee in a lunchroom to stop "chewing with your mouth open, you filthy wog."
Fair Work Commissioner Ian Cambridge found the employee, who he described as an "alpha male", was unfairly dismissed and should have been given a final warning instead.
"In particular, one major aspect of the reasons for dismissal which involved a finding that the applicant performed the "chicken dance" as an intentional act to intimidate, harass or otherwise harm another employee, was simply fanciful and did not represent valid reason for dismissal," he said.
The commissioner also said the workplace investigation was flawed in that the employer readily accepted the words of others and rejected Mr Redden's, perhaps due to the sacked employee's "somewhat disagreeable demeanour".
"Even unpleasant people are entitled to justice," he said.
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The Sunday morning Harold