$40k unfair dismissal case ruling revoked

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The Shire of Denmark has won its appeal against a decision to award a former employee, now councillor, Robert Whooley more than $40,000 in an unfair dismissal case.

The WA Industrial Relations Commission decision was published last week after acting president Jennifer Smith quashed the original decision from April.

Cr Whooley won his unfair dismissal case after former Shire chief executive Dale Stewart failed to consult the council before terminating his contract as infrastructure director — a role he had held for more than nine years.

Shire chief executive Bill Par-ker said the Shire had several grounds on which to appeal the April decision.

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“The Shire of Denmark’s legal representatives firmly consider that the commissioner made two errors in his decision — namely that the termination of Mr Whooley’s employment was not valid or effective, and that a settlement agreement reached by both parties during a conciliation in earlier proceedings, before the Fair Work Commission, was void,” he said.

Ms Smith decided to uphold the Shire’s appeal, saying the agreement reached between Cr Whooley and the Shire of Denmark was not “non-existent”.

“As the power to employ a senior employee resides with the chief executive and not the council, it is my opinion that it is simply a directive to first submit a recommendation to the council for the council to accept or reject, before employing or dismissing (a) senior employee,” she said.

Ms Smith said the rule was never intended to limit the power of the chief executive to employ or dismiss a senior employee.

She then decided Cr Whooley was no longer entitled to his payment.

Cr Whooley said he would appeal the decision next year.

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