Commission dismisses claim for unfair dismissal where the parties had reached an agreement to settle the claim

The Commission has dismissed a claim for unfair dismissal, on the grounds that the Commission was unable to hear a matter where the parties had reached an agreement to settle the claim. 

Background 

The applicant was employed as a full-time maintenance person from 20 May 2019. The respondent terminated the applicant’s employment on 28 February 2020 for his alleged inappropriate behaviour toward his supervisor. The applicant filed a claim for unfair dismissal on 15 May 2020.  

A hearing was scheduled to determine whether to hear the applicant’s application out of time. The respondent requested a further directions hearing on the basis the applicant had not complied with previous directions from the Commission to file and serve an outline of evidence and witnesses. 

The respondent later informed the Commission that it no longer sought a further directions hearing as the parties had reached an agreement to settle the matter. The applicant contacted the Commission to advise that he had agreed to settle with the respondent by email and had received the Settlement Agreement document but would not sign it. The applicant stated that he wished to proceed to hearing. 

Findings 

The Commission considered whether the application should be dismissed on the grounds that the parties had reached an agreement to settle the claim. 

The Commission outlined that, pursuant to section 27(1)(a)(ii) of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA), it is not in the public interest to proceed to hear a matter that is already settled by agreement. The Commission also outlined that where parties concluded the terms of the agreement, then a claim that a person has been unfairly dismissed is extinguished. 

The Commission noted that the applicant had emailed the respondent indicating his acceptance of an offer of $3000 in settlement of his claim, and the respondent had acknowledged receipt of this email. The applicant had also provided details of his financial institution account. 

The Commission considered that the Settlement Deed recorded the terms of the agreement made including payment, releases, confidentiality and non-disparagement. The Commission determined that while the settlement sum was not payable until the execution of the deed by the parties, a refusal to sign the Deed did not mean that the agreement between the parties was not concluded. 

The Commission found that further proceedings were not necessary or desirable in the public interest pursuant to section 27(1)(a)(ii) of the IR Act, and that the agreement made had overtaken the applicant’s unfair dismissal application. The Commission ordered that the application be dismissed. 

The decision can be read here.