ACT News

RSPCA manager labelled "duplicitous" as unfair dismissal claim rejected

The manager sacked by the RSPCA for leaking information to a union and undermining the chief executive has had his unfair dismissal claim rejected by the Fair Work Commission.

Glenn Howie was labelled "duplicitous" and part of his conduct "reprehensible" in the strongly worded judgment, released on Thursday afternoon.

Fair Work Commissioner Barbara Deegan questioned the motives of the former RSPCA ACT Animal Welfare executive manager, rejecting the claim that the leak was justified by an alleged delay in the charity's response to complaints about the CEO. 

"The applicant had made no complaint about the behaviour of the CEO until late August 2013," Commissioner Deegan said.

"The Council acted immediately after his complaints were made known to them."

Mr Howie's stated intent of drawing attention to the concreting of rabbit warrens at the Weston headquarters last August was also doubted.

Advertisement

"The applicant’s claimed motives for bringing the matter of the rabbit warrens to the attention of his union, and with his full knowledge, the press, are also questionable." 

The commission accepted the RSPCA ACT evidence to the hearing in March that the decision to put concrete slurry in the warrens was one made by the body's workplace health and safety committee, not unilaterally by chief executive Michael Linke.

"The applicant’s attempt to make it appear that the slurrying of the rabbit warrens was solely the responsibility of the CEO was, and is, reprehensible," the judgment said. 

"[H]e claimed [that the CEO] overrode the views of WH&S committee members.

"The minutes taken of the committee’s deliberations do not support this claim." 

Mr Howie had been stood down in mid-September and was dismissed on October 18, on the grounds that he leaked confidential information to the union relating to the concreting, made allegations of CEO misconduct to a journalist of The Canberra Times - this reporter - and made statements to other RSPCA employees intended to disparage Mr Linke. 

Commissioner Deegan said the applicant's release of the confidential material was part of a deliberate attempt to undermine the chief executive, and only "to a lesser extent" out of a concern for other employees, who also raised a range of issues with the RSPCA board in September. 

Ms Deegan said Mr Howie had failed to keep his assurances that he would maintain confidentiality and assist to calm workplace concerns as the governing council investigated his complaints. 

"Such duplicitous conduct is not justified by any concerns the applicant may have had for the welfare of junior staff."

Advertisement