AUSTRALIA—Two Australian postal workers who had been fired for emailing porn at work have gotten their jobs back after a high court ruled in their favor. Following an appeal by the Australia Post seeking to keep from hiring the men back, the Federal Court ruled in support of Australia's workplace tribunal, the Fair Work Commission, which last year "rejected Australia Post's 'zero tolerance' approach to sending sexually explicit material at work and found that the workers had been unfairly dismissed," according to The Age.
"The men, who worked at Australia Post's Dandenong Letter Centre in Melbourne's south-east, were among 40 workers disciplined by the postal authority over online activities in 2010," the paper added. "The activity came to light after Australia Post installed a new software filter on its email system that unearthed widespread distribution of softcore and hardcore pornographic material."
The two workers were fired despite having worked for at least a decade for the postal service, with one of the man having 17 years under his belt. In response, they appealed to the tribunal, which found in their favor, and arguing that other considerations, such as the length of their employment, should have been taken into account.
That finding was crucial in light of an "emerging trend" by employers to automatically fire anyone accused of sharing porn at the workplace that the tribunal commissioners said was "inconsistent" with fair employment practices, adding significantly, "Accessing, sending or receiving and storing pornography is not a separate species of misconduct to which special rules apply."
In other words, while neither the tribunal nor the Federal Court were advocating for the sharing of porn at work, what they were determined to maintain was a workplace culture in which "the same general principles apply, as apply in all unfair dismissal matters involving reliance on misconduct.''
Porn abuse at work, they said, is but one form of misconduct that must be assessed similarly to other forms of misconduct, and not as a special category of misconduct the punishment for which is automatic, terminal and unappealable.