Tag Archive | “Workplace”

Gosnells radiographer dismisses concerns of woman whose underwear he pulled down without consent.

‘Why bother, I have seen it all anyways’


EXCLUSIVE: A Gosnells radiographer has been reprimanded, and banned from practice after admitting to pulling a woman’s pants down without consent and spreading her legs to expose her vagina.

A State Administrative Tribunal decision published last week reveals that in October 2014 Pei Ren Un, then a radiographer at Perth Radiological Clinic at 122-126 Stalker Road, either untied or reached under the robe of a female patient.

Before tribunal member Patricia Le Miere, Un admitted to pulling the patient’s underwear down without consent and, while she was on her back with her knees bent, pushing her knees apart, exposing her vagina.

Un admitted that in response to the patient trying to cover herself with the robe he said: “Why bother, I have seen it all anyways”, or words to that effect.

In November, 2014, Un’s employment at the clinic was terminated.

In May last year he was convicted of unlawful and indecent assault of the patient after pleading guilty at Armadale Magistrates Court.

He was sentenced to a 12-month community based order, and on December 1 his registration as a medical radiation practitioner lapsed.

He did not try to renew the registration, and has sought training and alternative employment in the computer technology and hospitality industries.

Ms Le Miere reprimanded Un for the sexual misconduct, disqualified him from applying for registration as a medical radiation practitioner for 18 months, and ordered that he pay the $1800 legal costs of the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia which brought the case to the tribunal.

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Two workers paid nothing for two weeks.

Fremantle hairdresser clips staff


A Fremantle hairdressing salon has been fined more than $7000 for underpaying two employees more than $9000 between 2011 and 2013.

The Industrial Magistrates Court found that Maurizio Raffa, who owned the Amore for Hair salon, to have underpaid a junior apprentice hairdresser $7,300.05 and a senior hairdresser $2,025.72.

Raffa was fined $5830 for underpaying the apprentice and a further $1570 for underpaying the senior hairdresser.

The court found Raffa had paid the 15-year-old apprentice below the minimum lawful award rate for the entire two-year period of her engagement and had also failed to pay the apprentice for tool allowance and annual leave loading.

Compliance and Education Director with the state government’s Labour relations agency, Joseph Lee, said it was extremely disappointing to see an employer fail to pay appropriate rates to a vulnerable young person.

“The rates paid to an apprentice are already low compared to those paid to other employees”, Mr Lee said.

Both workers did not receive any payment for a two week period of work they performed for Raffa in May 2013.

The Industrial Magistrates Court also ordered that Raffa pay interest of $1,557.62 to the apprentice and $349.62 to the senior hairdresser as well as costs of $430.00.

“In the end it has cost the employer far more than if he had simply paid the employee correctly at the appropriate time,” Mr Lee said.

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How council boss was sacked secretly after Lord Mayor said a prayer.

Perth CEO dumped in 14 minutes


EXCLUSIVE: The secret career assassination of Perth council CEO Gary Stevenson took just 14 minutes to execute last week, a City of Perth document reveals.

Minutes of a special meeting of the council show that at 9.21am on January 20 Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi said a prayer, and declared the forum open.

Mrs Scaffidi’s political nemesis Reece Harley, the mayor’s only opponent at the recent council elections, moved that the meeting go behind closed doors. This was seconded by veteran councillor Judy McEvoy, onetime vehement critic of the secrecy of Mrs Scaffidi’s contentious overseas trips, who is now a political ally.

The motion was carried, and City of Perth staff, and the public, were asked to leave – except for one official, Angela Smith, who was appointed minute taker.

The day before, another secret meeting – of the council’s CEO Performance Review Committee – had recommended that Mr Stevenson be axed.

At the full council meeting, Mrs Scaffidi’s closest ally on the council, Janet Davidson, moved that the committee’s recommendation be approved. Real estate agent-cum-councillor James Limnios seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously by the city’s full complement of elected officials.

At 9.35am Mrs Scaffidi reopened the meeting to the public and told those in attendance that Mr Stevenson had been sacked.

Mr Stevenson lasted just over three years at the council, after his appointment and one-way air fares from Queensland were unanimously approved by Mrs Scaffidi and her then city councillor colleagues in September 2012.

Mr Stevenson’s predecessor, Frank Edwards, who helped Mrs Scaffidi camouflage BHP-Billiton’s funding of a free trip for she and property developer husband Joe to the Beijing Olympics, served a decade at the council before retiring. Mrs Scaffidi’s failure to disclose the BHP-Billiton funding was slammed recently by the Corruption and Crime Commission.

She is still under investigation by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

Mr Stevenson and Mrs Scaffidi are pictured above, during happier times, not long after his appointment.

Mrs Scaffidi and the council have refused to elaborate on why, exactly, Mr Stevenson was fired, claiming only in a four-paragraph press release that the city needed a “new direction”.

The council’s chief town planner Martin Mileham has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer, and will sit at the left hand of Mrs Scaffidi at the next council meeting on February 2.

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Student takes her case to Fair Work Ombudsman.

‘I was paid less because I wasn’t an Aussie’


An international student who was allegedly underpaid thousands of dollars claims she was told she would be paid less because “you are not an Aussie”.

The 27-year-old from Nepal also alleges that her employer threatened to cancel her visa if she complained about her low wages to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The student was allegedly paid a flat rate as low as $12 an hour to work at the Health Express take-away food outlet at DFO South Wharf in Melbourne.

In a record of interview with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the student alleged that Health Express owner Jeffrey Herscu made it clear she would be paid less because she was an overseas worker.

“When I came for the interview, he said that I will give you the job, but as you are not an Aussie, I will be paying you a lesser amount,” she alleged to Fair Work inspectors who investigated her request for help.

“It was really embarrassing for me.

“I had Australian friends who were doing the same kind of work, but were getting paid over $20 an hour.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the casual worker was allegedly short-changed more than $23,500 between September, 2013 and March, 2015.

She was entitled to be paid up to $23.15 an hour for normal work, up to $27.78 on Saturdays, up to $32.41 on Sundays and up to $50.93 on public holidays.

The student returned to Nepal for several weeks to care for her sick father, only to find she had allegedly been removed from the Health Express roster on her return.

The woman was one of two international students who complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman that Health Express was underpaying them.

A second male student, 31, from India, was allegedly paid a flat rate of between $16.47 and $18.52 an hour between June, 2010 and March, 2015, resulting in an alleged underpayment of more than $27,300.

Both students were entitled to a uniform allowance of $1.25 a shift which they never received and the male worker allegedly did not get his correct annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.

Mr Herscu, the sole director of Rapid City Pty Ltd, which runs Health Express, has agreed to apologise and back-pay the $50,000 owed to his two former workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says Mr Herscu and his company have been asked to sign an enforceable undertaking aimed at encouraging behavioural change.

This includes placing a public notice in the Melbourne media apologising for the conduct and making a $5000 donation to the Western Community Legal Centre to promote workplace rights to vulnerable employees.

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Company fined $80,000 after apprentice suffers life-changing injuries.

60% burns from workplace party trick


A workplace party trick gone wrong has seen a Kalgoorlie apprentice seriously burned and an engine repair company fined $80,000 and ordered to pay $6000 in court costs.

Primepower Engineering Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing serious harm to a worker. The company was fined today at Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court.

On November 11, 2011, Primepower staff finished work early, at 11.00am, to celebrate Remembrance Day and Director Peter Allan’s birthday.

In the early afternoon, at Primepower’s premises, some of the apprentices tried to make a tractor engine seize by over-revving it until it failed. This had been attempted previously, and Mr Allan described it as a “challenge to the apprentices”.

After doing some work on the engine, the apprentices took it outside, and eventually got it to start about 3.00pm.

The throttle of the engine was fixed in a fully open position and the apprentices went about trying to seize the engine by introducing brake cleaner, water, compressed air, thinners, methanol and ultimately petrol into the turbo air intake.

About 7.00pm, one of the apprentice electricians was standing in front of the running engine and pouring petrol into the turbo air intake when the petrol ignited. It is believed a spark came off the flywheel and caused the ignition.

The apprentice suffered burns to 61 per cent of his body, resulting in impaired function in his arms, severe scarring and pain, the need to wear pressure garments and ongoing treatment to his damaged elbows.

He has had at least eight rounds of surgery, continues to see a plastic surgeon and would have died from his injuries without medical intervention.

Outside court, WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said Primepower’s management would have been aware of the risks involved and did not take any action to alleviate them.

“It seems that Primepower management actually encouraged the apprentices in their hazardous actions, facilitating the attempts to seize the engine that resulted in terrible injuries to one of the apprentices,” Mr McCulloch said.

“A young apprentice was exposed to a serious hazard when the employees should have been instructed not to pour or spray flammable substances into the air intake of the engine, and this instruction should have been enforced by management.

“As a result, the young apprentice has suffered extremely painful injuries and his life has been permanently changed.

Mr McCulloch said the case was a reminder that employers are responsible for the safety of their employees even when they are attending social functions at a workplace.

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Lookers gain lucrative advantage over their plainer colleagues.

Attractive workers paid more


Attractive people are likely to be paid between $11,000 and $26,000 more over a 40-year career than their plainer colleagues, a University of Western Australia study has found.

Laura Fruhen, from UWA’s School of Psychology, and researchers from the University of Glasgow and Abertay University in the UK, examined whether perceptions of facial attractiveness, trustworthiness and dominance could affect how much people were willing to pay others.

“We worked out that over the course of a 40-year career, an income advantage of between $11,000 and $26,000 could be achieved just based on having particular facial features,” Dr Fruhen said.

“What we found was that seemingly superficial perceptions of others could impact pay at different managerial levels from shop floor managers right through to senior managers.”

Faces in the study were rated based on their attractiveness, dominance and trustworthiness.

“Perceiving someone’s dominance, trustworthiness or attractiveness is something that we do intuitively and it affects how we act towards others,” Dr Fruhen said.

As part of the experiment, 1200 people were asked to rate individual faces for attractiveness, dominance or trustworthiness, with another 1432 people assessing how much they would pay them.

The study found that shop floor employees benefited the most from being attractive, while at a senior management level, trustworthiness was most important.

“The setting we chose for our research was retail, and the shop floor job we included was one where there would be interaction with customers,” Dr Fruhen said.

“People generally like to associate with attractive people and tend to buy more when served by an attractive sales person.”

She said senior positions often required especially high levels of trust in teams, as they involved more uncertainty and complexity, and decisions might not always be reached through consensus of all team members.

“This may explain why facial trustworthiness was especially rewarded in senior positions,” Dr Fruhen said.

Dr Fruhen said the findings could be used by workers looking to enhance their CVs or online profiles on business-related social networking sites by “picking the right pictures for the desired effect” as an example.

Also, employers could be encouraged to evaluate employees without photos in order to reduce the impact of facial features on pay and by educating people who make salary decisions about the potential impact of employees’ facial appearance on their decisions.

Photo: Jakob Montrasio, Wikimedia Commons

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Ratepayers to foot the bill after City of Perth found to have acted harshly.

Parking boss unfairly fired after false work claim


EXCLUSIVE: A City of Perth parking supervisor who claimed to be at work when he was not has won compensation of three months’ pay in an unfair dismissal hearing.

In a recent decision, Fair Work Commissioner Bruce Williams found that Alex Casper, a team leader for the City of Perth’s car parks, claimed to have worked 28 minutes on one day, and 111 minutes on another day, which he had not worked.

Commissioner Williams found this was a valid reason for Mr Casper’s sacking on October 27 last year, after Mr Casper had been a team leader for the council’s car parks since 2007.

However, Commissioner Williams concluded the sacking was harsh, given Mr Casper’s length of service, the council’s more lenient approach to other staff not working strictly in accordance with their rosters, and that Mr Casper would occasionally work outside his rostered hours.

“Therefore I conclude that Mr Casper’s dismissal was unfair,” Commissioner Williams opined.

Commissioner Williams ordered the council to compensate Mr Casper with three months’ salary.

In his role as team leader, Mr Casper supervised car park and security officers, inspected all the city’s car parks and managed event parking.

After being fired from the council he was unemployed for four months

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Swearing in class more or less in context, Commissioner rules.

Foul-mouthed TAFE teacher reinstated


EXCLUSIVE: A TAFE lecturer who told a student he would break the “f*cking legs” of another student if he saw that boy near his home has been reinstated with backpay after being sacked in May.

In a decision published today, WA Industrial Commissioner Pamela Scott ordered Kimberley Training Institute to reappoint maritime security lecturer James Petticrew after his dismissal was found to be harsh, oppressive and unfair.

In February last year Mr Petticrew was working at KTI’s Broome campus when he called in to the automotive workshop to see if he could get some advice from the lecturer about repairs to his own trailer.

A student asked Mr Petticrew, then in his late 50s, if he had seen another TAFE student, neither of whom will be named here for legal reasons.

He told the student to give the other student a message that if he saw that student near his house he would “break his f*cking legs”.

Mr Petticrew suspected the second student had burgled his house. oneperth.com.au makes no such allegation.

For what he later admitted was an “outburst”, Mr Petticrew, a TAFE lecturer of more than six years standing, was fired on May 28 this year.

Through his trade union, Mr Petticrew challenged the sacking.

In her ruling, Ms Scott noted the “most significant aspect of [his] conduct was that it contained a threat of violence against a student of KTI, and that [he] told another 16-year-old student to convey the threat”.

“… Mr Petticrew’s behaviour was threatening, in that he expressed an intention of physical violence,” Ms Scott added.

“It was disrespectful to all of those who heard it and towards [the second student].

“It was irresponsible and unprofessional.”

But Ms Scott concluded it was “true that in some workplaces the type of conduct Mr Petticrew exhibited may be the norm and unexceptional”.

“In other contexts, such as in a primary school, it might have been far more serious.

“However, it was at a TAFE college in the presence of 16-year-old youths.

“While they may be young, they are not children, nor would they be unfamiliar with the language or type of threat made by Mr Petticrew.

“They may have been shocked by it coming from a lecturer, but I find it hard to believe they would have taken it literally.”

Ms Scott ruled that he be reinstated and compensated for lost salary, but be issued with a formal reprimand.

“In saying that, it must be clear to Mr Petticrew that further such conduct should be viewed very seriously and Mr Petticrew should be under no illusions about possible consequences,” she admonished.

Mr Petticrew had earlier been advised to tone down his language after in 2012 telling a student: “I’ll knock your f*cking head off if you keep calling me Sir”, and asking a whole class: “Haven’t you f*ckers finished yet?”.

Photo: ‘singhca’, Wikimedia Commons

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Notice detailing workplace breaches to be displayed to customers.

Malaysian eatery named and shamed


The Malaysian Dining Delights restaurant at Bentley has been compelled to display a notice of its workplace breaches after international students and a foreign backpacker were paid as little as $15 an hour.

The three females, from Malaysia and Taiwan, worked as kitchen hands and waiting staff at the Malaysian Dining Delights restaurant on Manning Road in Bentley.

They are among five workers aged between 22 and 41 who were short-changed almost $4200 between July last year and January this year.

They were being underpaid their minimum hourly rate, overtime, weekend, evening, and public holiday rates and split shift allowances.

Individual underpayments ranged from $233 to $2175.

Restaurant director Soon Huat Koh told Fair Work inspectors he was unaware of Australia’s minimum pay rates or the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

Mr Koh also failed to issue pay slips, for which he received an $850 on-the-spot fine.

Four of the five underpaid workers have now been reimbursed all outstanding entitlements.

The 417 working holiday visa-holder has returned home and cannot be located. Her wages will be held in trust until she can be found.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said Malaysian Dining Delights had no previous record of non-compliance with workplace laws.

She has requested the business and Mr Koh to sign an enforceable undertaking requiring the restaurant to engage an external accounting professional to audit wage practices and report back to her on systems and processes implemented to ensure compliance.

The restaurant will now issue pay slips to workers within one working day of them being paid, and display a workplace notice detailing the company’s breaches.

Photo: ‘Elph’, Wikimedia Commons

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Industrial commissioner slams police counterpart after senior constable removed on health grounds.

O’Callaghan ‘inconsiderate’ to veteran cop


EXCLUSIVE: The failure of Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan to acknowledge a senior constable’s 24 years’ service prior to her removal from the force on health grounds has been slammed as “inconsiderate” by Western Australia’s chief industrial commissioner.

Last year, Senior Constable Susan Moran was removed from the WA police force after she was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder.

The lack of a compensation scheme for officers removed on medical grounds meant that, upon being compelled to leave, Ms Moran was paid just one month’s salary and her superannuation and other entitlements.

In the WA Industrial Relations Commission, and represented by her father, Kevin, a retired WA Police inspector in his mid-seventies, Ms Moran appealed her removal from the force. In a decision handed down on Thursday, her appeal was dismissed.

However, in the commission’s published decision, WA’s chief industrial commissioner Tony Beech noted with concern that Dr O’Callaghan did not acknowledge Ms Moran’s long service to the people of WA.

“On the material in this appeal, there is no reason provided as to why he did not do so,” Mr Beech continued.

“He could have done so and, in consideration of Ms Moran’s service, should have done so.

“It was a significant part of Ms Moran’s life and a significant length of time for her to have served the public of WA in a difficult and stressful and, at times from her evidence, thankless but essential job.”

During the commission hearing, Ms Moran argued that one month’s payment was a completely inadequate measure of both her worth after 24 years of service and her removal which was not her fault.

“Balancing all of the evidence, the failure to recognise Ms Moran’s service and length of service, while inconsiderate, does not establish that the decision to remove Ms Moran was harsh oppressive or unfair,” Mr Beech noted.

State counsel for Dr O’Callaghan had argued the police commissioner was under no onus to acknowledge Ms Moran’s service. Mr Beech agreed, and noted Dr O’Callaghan had acted in accordance with the law.

However, Mr Beech concluded that public confidence in the police force: “still would be met even if Ms Moran’s removal had been done with a proper recognition of her service and length of service”.

“It was in Ms Moran’s interest that the Commissioner of Police acknowledge her service and length of service,” Mr Beech concluded.

“On the evidence, the lack of acknowledgement is a part of the removal process which resulted in her feeling she had been worth ‘nothing’.

“Objectively, the service and length of service of a long serving police officer who is being removed through no fault of their own ought to be acknowledged.

“The work Ms Moran performed as she outlined in her evidence is of importance for the community she served.

“On the evidence, Ms Moran ended her service with the WA Police with her integrity, her honesty, her competence, her past performance as a police officer and her conduct intact.”

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Psych nurse had sex with patient



A psychiatric nurse who had sex with one patient and kissed and hugged another at the mental health unit of Joondalup Health Campus has been banned from practising for seven years.

In a decision published today, State Administrative Tribunal president Jeremy Curthoys found that in February 2012 psychiatric nurse Timothy Buckby closed the door of a 47-year-old patient’s room, kissed her, pushed his crotch against her and forced her to touch his penis.

On another occasion that month, Buckby instructed the patient to lie down on her bed. He covered her mouth with his hand, pushed her legs apart, moved her underwear and inserted his penis into her vagina.

After the patient was discharged from Joondalup Health Campus, Buckby visited her house and had sex with her. During another visit he received oral sex from her.

Evidence tabled at the tribunal revealed that, at the time of her admission, the patient had been suffering anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and felt fearful of authority figures.

Justice Curthoys heard the patient was particularly vulnerable to authority figures, including nurses. She was also heavily medicated.

Justice Curthoys also found that in June 2012 Buckby hugged and kissed another woman, 55, who had been recently admitted to Joondalup Health Campus.

On or about July 9 that year the patient reported to a psychologist that she was having a “fling” with Buckby and they had been kissing in her room.

Buckby had earlier denied the above allegations. However, he did not appear and was not legally represented at the tribunal hearing.

Justice Curthoys concluded Buckby was permanently or indefinitely unfit to practise, and ordered that the nurse’s registration be cancelled and that he be disqualified from reapplying for registration for seven years.

Photo: ‘Outrune’, Wikimedia Commons


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Smoko costs pharmacist her job


EXCLUSIVE: A pharmacist summarily dismissed from a Mandurah drug store after she took an unauthorised smoko has failed to extract damages from her employer for not paying her in lieu of notice.

A WA Industrial Relations Commission decision published online last week by Acting Senior Commissioner Pamela Scott reveals that in November 2013 Anja Rossouw, who had been pharmacist in charge at Pharmacy 777 Mandurah Carpark Chemist, was sacked after being accused of leaving her post.

Before Ms Scott, Ms Rossouw denied she left the pharmacy to have a cigarette. She said she had left to get a form she needed to read from her car, and thought that while she was out she might as well have a cigarette. She acknowledged that the previous day her boss had told her not to leave the pharmacy, but said she had to go out to get the form.


Ar the Commssion, lawyers for pharmacy owner Peta Bennett Investments Pty Ltd played a video recording from the closed circuit television camera outside the pharmacy. Ms Rossouw agreed the recording showed her leaving the pharmacy in her uniform with a cigarette in hand.

She returned to the pharmacy with no document in her hands. Asked about this, she said she went to the car to look for the form, but it was not in the car as she had thought.

Peta Bennett Investments Pty Ltd argued instead that Ms Rossouw had admitted leaving the pharmacy during her shift, which she had previously denied, but denied she’d had a cigarette while she was outside. The company said that pharmacy director Peta Bennett then told Ms Rossouw there was security camera footage showing her having a cigarette outside the shop, and Ms Rossouw then admitted she did have a cigarette.


In her published decision, Ms Scott said she preferred the evidence of witnesses other than Ms Rossouw.

“… the applicant was less than frank and was inclined to make excuses or to blame others,” Ms Scott noted.

“For example, it is clear that the applicant used, as a pretext for leaving the pharmacy, that she needed to collect the … form from her car.

“Yet she had not previously disclosed this excuse to her employer, and it was only in cross examination when it was put to her that she had returned without the form that she said that it was not in the car.

“Further, it is clear that she left the pharmacy more than once on that day and it could not have been to get the … form on each occasion.”


Ms Scott noted there were other instances of Ms Rossouw’s lack of honesty.

“For example, during the induction, when [pharmacy manager Rebecca Hicks] took the applicant through the [pharmacy’s] policies and commented that she did not seem like a smoker, so there was no need to deal with that aspect, the applicant chose not to disclose that, in fact, she is a smoker,” Ms Scott noted.

“She knew from Ms Hicks’ following comments that she was opposed to pharmacists smoking, so she remained silent and signed the bottom of the page setting out the smoking policy.”

The pharmacy’s smoking policy reads:

Our Pharmacy promotes good health to the Mandurah community, and counsels customers on the benefits of not smoking and how to get help to quit the habit. It is the management’s view that it is unprofessional and unacceptable for you to be seen smoking whilst in uniform and would prefer that you did not smoke whilst in uniform and preferably did not smoke at all. Your message of health and well being will be significantly undermined by the public seeing you smoke.


Before Ms Scott, a pharmacy assistant, Chelsea Ralph, testified that Ms Rossouw left the shop about five times for two to three minutes at a time on November 9 and 10, 2013.

Ms Ralph explained she had been told by her manager that the pharmacist in charge of the shop is not allowed to leave the pharmacy. She said there were facilities, including a toilet, within the shop so there was no need for the pharmacist to leave. She added that if there were anything the pharmacist needed from outside the shop, the pharmacy assistants were there to “do all the running around for them”.

Ms Ralph said no other pharmacist with whom she had worked had: “ever set foot outside of the shop during the shift”.

“They take their breaks when the shop is not busy, and never leave the shop,” she said.


Virginia Stanford, also a pharmacy assistant at the drug store, testified that on November 10 she saw Ms Rossouw once leave the pharmacy. Ms Stanford said that in the three-and-a-half years she worked as a pharmacy assistant none of her colleagues had taken smoke breaks while she had been working.

She said it was not usual for people to be given smoke breaks, and that “the pharmacist does not leave”.

Ms Scott found that Ms Rossouw knew there was a policy dealing with smoking, and that it was frowned upon by her manager.

“She knew that the policy, which she acknowledged she was bound by and which she signed, required her not to smoke while in uniform, yet she did so,” Ms Scott concluded.

“I accept the evidence of Ms Ralph that the applicant left the pharmacy when there were customers present.”

Ms Scott concluded the dismissal was properly summary for serious misconduct and that no pay in lieu of notice was due.

Photo: Rhoda Baer, Wikimedia Commons

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Chaplain banned from WA prisons


EXCLUSIVE: A prison chaplain banned from all Western Australian jails after being accused of trafficking information handed to him by an inmate has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.

A decision published online last week by WA Industrial Commissioner Stephen Kenner reveals that on February 6 last year prison chaplain Chacko (James) Varkey was leaving Woorooloo Prison when a prisoner gave him a handwritten note.

After leaving Wooroloo with the note in his bag, Mr Varkey attended Casuarina Prison on February 12.

He told Commissioner Kenner that when he arrived at Casuarina and looked in his bag he realised he had the note and handed it to Reverend Wright, the coordinating chaplain at the jail.

Reverend Wright realised that trafficking information out of or into a prison was a serious offence. He spoke to the head of security at Casuarina who told him the matter allegedly seemed to involve trafficking of information and that he would need to speak to the Casuarina superintendent, Ian Clark.

Before Commissioner Kenner, lawyers for Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe successfully argued that the subsequent decision by Superintendent Clark to ban Mr Varkey from Casuarina and, as a consequence, from entering any prison throughout the state, meant the church had no alternative but to terminate Mr Varkey’s employment.

Mr Varkey testified that, on February 18 at Casuarina, Superintendent Clark had told him he had breached security protocols and could be charged with the offence of trafficking information.

However, Reverend Wright testified the superintendent had told Mr Varkey he did not intend to bring charges.

Reverend Wright said Superintendent Clark had also asked whether there had been other matters in the past, and Mr Varkey said there had not been. Reverend Wright testified that he intervened to remind Mr Varkey that on a previous occasion Mr Varkey had allegedly brought a thumb drive into the prison.

Reverend Wright described Mr Varkey’s attitude when being questioned by Superintendent Clark as “belligerent”.

On February 27 the Chief Executive Officer of the archbishop’s office wrote to tell Mr Varkey of his immediate dismissal from the archbishop’s chaplaincy service.

Before Commissioner Kenner, Mr Varkey complained that he received no support from Archbishop Costelloe.

Mr Kenner concluded the archbishop: “could have handled the cessation of Mr Varkey’s employment better”.

“In my view it would have been more appropriate for the archbishop to have met with Mr Varkey and to have explained to him the consequences of what occurred arising from the Superintendent Clark’s decision,” he noted.

Mr Varkey had been a prison chaplain since July 2011.

Photo: Leon Brooks, Wikimedia Commons

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IGA fined for employing 11-year-old girl


The proprietor of an IGA supermarket at Jurien Bay has been fined $2250 in the Perth Industrial Magistrate’s Court for illegally employing an 11-year-old girl.

The charge related to the employment of the child as a shop assistant in five shifts of work that were performed on weekend days during August last year.

Under the Children and Community Services Act 2004, it is illegal for businesses in the retail industry to employ children aged less than 13 years.

Retail industry employers may employ children aged between 13 and 15 years, but must not allow them to work before 6am or later than 10pm.

The employer also must obtain written permission from the child’s parent or guardian to employ them.

Department of Commerce spokesman Joseph Lee said the prosecution  of MMG (WA) Pty Ltd – trading as the IGA supermarket in Jurien Bay should serve as a timely reminder to all employers of their obligations under these laws, particularly in the major school holiday period of the year.

“Of particular concern in this matter is the very young age of the child concerned,” Mr Lee said.

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