Man Fired from Family Business after Being Late to Dinner at Parents' House Wins Compensation

An Australian man who was sacked from a family business after being late to dinner at his parents' house has been awarded more than $10,000 (AUD) in compensation.

Pasquale Parente took legal action against Selective Smash Repairs Pty Ltd, a car repair business owned by his father Egidio Parente, after his job of Assistant Manager was terminated on March 10. He alleged he was unfairly dismissed under the country's Fair Work Act 2009.

On November 1, the Fair Work Commission ruled the business would have to pay the equivalent of about $7,000 ($10,115 AUD) to the son, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The commission heard how the man's parents became angry after he failed to turn up on time, which sparked a fight. The son was then "told to leave and never come back, either to his parents' house or to the business of Selective Smash Repairs" and fired on the spot.

That move was in violation of employment law, Commissioner Sarah McKinnon ruled, noting the firm did not respond to the complaint and was not represented at the hearing. She said Pasquale Parente had been employed at the business for approximately two years and six weeks.

"Pasquale was dismissed for arriving late for a family dinner. His relationship with his parents had been under strain for approximately one month, but there is insufficient context before me to explain why arriving late for dinner would have been a valid reason for dismissal. I am not satisfied that it was," McKinnon said. "There was no valid reason for dismissal."

The commissioner said the typical remedy for unfair dismissal cases, which is reinstatement to the former role, was not appropriate in this instance as the son had since got another job and there had been a "genuine loss of trust and confidence" between the son and parents.

Ultimately, she decided the job termination had been "unjust and unfair." Filings show that the payment of compensation has to be paid in installments across four dates this month.

"I am left in the dark as to any additional contextual matters that should or could have been taken into account when considering if the dismissal was unfair," McKinnon said, noting that there was no evidence to suggest the man's job performance had ever been unsatisfactory.

"It is, to my mind, extremely sad that what was once a loving family has allowed relationships to deteriorate to the extent that they have. However, Pasquale has the right to bring his claim." She added: "I am satisfied that an order for compensation is appropriate in the circumstances."

 Cutlery on the table
File photo: Cutlery on the table. An Australian man who was sacked from a family business for being late to dinner at his parents’ house has been awarded more than $10,000 (AUD) in compensation. iStock