Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Challenges to disciplinary actions must be brought within a reasonable time

The Commission has dismissed three applications challenging the Department of Education’s decision to take disciplinary action against the applicant on three separate occasions, namely, the 11 September 2015, 24 May 2017 and 18 August 2017. The three applications were heard together and referred to the Commission under the Public Sector Management Act 1994.

The applicant previously, while legally represented, had challenged the first disciplinary finding of 11 September 2015 through the Commission, which was resolved with a deed of settlement and the disciplinary action taken was not disturbed by the settlement. The Commission dismissed this application after it found that the applicant, although reluctantly, had accepted that he had entered into a deed of settlement that was freely executed and barred him from bringing this application.

As for the other two applications arising from the disciplinary findings that occurred on 24 May 2017 and 18 August 2017, the Commission determined that it was not in the public interest to hear the matters as they had not been brought in a reasonable time and no good explanation was given for the delay. The Commission heard that the applicant had decided to delay bringing the applications due to the expense of legal representation and his belief that he could not competently represent himself at that time. However, it was held that employers and the legal system cannot be fairly asked to wait until a time that a person considers that they are able to represent themselves to bring an application. The Commission also dismissed these applications.

The decision can be read here.

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