Now that we have returned to a more normal post-COVID life, some businesses will be having their first Xmas party for a few years. I’m sure the employees are happy. Management and HR on the other hand might be aware of some of the pitfalls as the following story demonstrates.

Mr McD was an employee of an engineering firm (“FEC”) which specialised in installing communications towers. In the lead up to Christmas 2014 FEC arranged for their employees to enjoy a day of go-karting followed by a Christmas party back at the FEC premises.

Mr McD attended the go-karting event and then returned to the FEC premises for the Christmas party. FEC provided alcohol and food for the employees in attendance. There were no controls over the amount of alcohol individuals chose to consume. There was a swimming pool at the FEC premises.

It didn’t take long before McD and Mr S (a senior engineer) apparently had a disagreement with McD poking him in the chest and acting aggressively before ultimately pushing him, fully clothed into the swimming pool. At that stage Mr D (FEC’s director and general manager intervened) and told McD he should go home.

What happened next is a bit predictable. McD told Mr D to “f*ck off” to which Mr D articulately responded “no, you f*ck off”. This eventually descended into a “physical altercation” which was (unhelpfully for McD) partially recorded on the CCTV.

Anyway…..the Fair Work Commission (why did he even challenge his dismissal) found: “In all the circumstances it is not surprising that Mr McD was dismissed. Mr McD’s dismissal was neither harsh, unjust nor unreasonable. Mr McD was not unfairly dismissed.” You can read the whole catastrophe here if you want to. Seasons greetings to you all.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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