‘Fake tits, wanker’: BHP workers sacked for Xmas party brawl
A BHP operator sacked over a brawl at a work Christmas party has successfully fought to get his job back, while the Fair Work Commission upheld the dismissal of a co-worker over the same violent incident at Moranbah.
Bradley Drake punched a supervisor in the face multiple times after asking another co-worker if she had "fake tits".
He and Andrew Bird were fired over an incident on December 6 last year at the Goonyella Riverside Mine's prestrip department 'C Crew' end of year party.
About 11pm Mr Drake and Mr Bird were at the bar inside the Moranbah Bowls Club when the pair, in an attempt to stir him up, asked coal mining supervisor Rod Maunder why he was at the party given his department was holding its own function that same night.
Mr Drake claimed Mr Maunder said, "Mind your f---ing business. You are a wanker" - which he denied saying.
The Fair Work Commission found the argument ramped up and Mr Bird and Mr Maunder were holding each other by the shirt fronts when Mr Drake punched the supervisor in the face about three or four times in front of 90 people, 60 of whom were BHP employees.
"The behaviour of both Mr Drake and Mr Bird was offensive, insulting, intimidating, malicious and humiliating," Fair Work deputy president Ingrid Asbury said.
During the same function Mr Drake also asked a female co-worker if she had "fake tits" and said "all the girls have them, you can't come to (excavator) strip 44 unless you have fake boobs".
Mr Drake, from Mirani, said the comment was a joke because several of the woman he worked with had breast implants and they would regularly make jokes.
He agreed he had drunk quite a bit that night and said he had no recollection of punching Mr Maunder and that was not his intention.
"If the witnesses say I punched him, I will take the medicine," he told the Commission, arguing his dismissal was unjust.
But Ms Asbury maintained BHP had a valid reason for the sacking because he punched Mr Maunder multiple times. Mr Maunder also lost his employment over his part in the incident.
Mr Bird denied punching Mr Maunder and said the coal mining supervisor had been the aggressor, forcing him to act in self defence by grabbing his shirt front to prevent Mr Maunder from striking him, which Ms Asbury rejected.
"I am also concerned about the lack of remorse for his conduct displayed by Mr Bird and his attitude that he should not have been required to defend himself against dismissal for his conduct," she said.
However, she found Mr Bird was unfairly dismissed "because he was not guilty of the misconduct on which the employer acted".
"I am unable to be satisfied that Mr Bird did punch Mr Maunder and that Mr Bird's conduct was otherwise not sufficiently serious as to constitute a valid reason for dismissal," she said.
"I am satisfied that reinstatement is not inappropriate and I have concluded that Mr Bird should be reinstated to the position that he held immediately before his dismissal."