Pub group beats unfair dismissal claim

03 May, 2013 by

By James Atkinson

The operations manager of a pub group has failed to convince Fair Work Australia (FWA) that he was covered by the Hospitality Award and therefore protected from unfair dismissal.

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John Boreland was employed by Reserve Hotels – which has 12 pubs in New South Wales and South Australia – as an operations manager reporting to owner Nick Balagiannis.

After he was made redundant in October last year, Boreland took Reserve Hotels to FWA, claiming his dismissal was not a result of "genuine redundancy".

But Reserve Hotels, which was represented by the Australian Hotels Association (NSW), contested Boreland's claim that he was protected from unfair dismissal by the Hospitality Award.

The AHA argued that Boreland was an operations manager who oversaw multiple venues, and his role did not therefore meet the definition of "hotel manager" in the Award.

But Boreland claimed that he did not in reality have the authority of an operations manager at Reserve Hotels because he was regularly micro-managed and overruled by Balagiannis.

FWA Deputy President Anna Booth ruled that while Boreland may have had a "strong willed and activist manager who often countermanded his decisions", this was simply "a question of managerial style".

"It may not be modern, it may not be ideal, it may not even be the healthiest style for the person who demonstrates it, but it does not undermine the role that [Boreland] had for the purposes of identifying the coverage of the Hospitality Award," she said.

Deputy President Booth dismissed Boreland's application on the basis that the Award specifically excludes employees who undertake the duties of senior management across a number of pubs.

Phillip Ryan, director of legal and industrial affairs for the AHA (NSW), told TheShout: "This is the first decision which clarifies the scope of the classification structure of the modern hospitality industry award, and in particular the managerial staff classification."