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Worker who pushed colleague into pool was fairly sacked, commission finds

The Fair Work Commission has upheld the sacking of a worker who pushed a fully-clothed colleague into a swimming pool.

Last year, the Fair Work Commission found that employers may not be in a position to insist on standards of conduct at functions if they serve unlimited amounts of free alcohol.

It found an employee who sexually harassed colleagues and told his bosses to "f--- off" at a Christmas party had been unfairly sacked.

But in a new decision, the commission found an employee who harangued a colleague and aggressively poked and pushed him in the chest before finally pushing him into a swimming pool at the work Christmas party, was rightly sacked.

The act, which had come without warning, was held to be "aggressive".

Both men had allegedly told each other to "f--- off" during a heated argument.

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The employee who was later sacked also started a physical fight with his general manager after being told to go home.

The employee from Future Engineering and Communication Pty Ltd in Western Australia said he could not remember many events from the December 19 evening in 2014 and blamed his then employer for supplying him with unlimited alcohol.

But Commissioner Bruce Williams said that "in all the circumstances it is not surprising" that the employee was sacked.

He said, "in some circumstances an employer that provides alcohol at a work function and takes no steps to ensure it is consumed responsibly may be culpable for events attributable to the consumption of alcohol, such as a drunken employee being injured falling down stairs".

But, Commissioner Williams said, "employees who drink will also be held responsible for their own actions".

The fact that someone has been drinking when they behave badly may in part explain their actions, "but it should not be accepted as an excuse for that misbehaviour".

"How much alcohol someone drinks is a choice they make and with that choice comes consequences," he said.

"Society no longer readily accepts alcohol consumption as an excuse for bad behaviour and certainly not for physical violence."

Last year, the Fair Work Commission found an employee who sexually harassed colleagues and told his bosses to f--- off at a Christmas party was unfairly sacked partly because the company had supplied him with a free flow of alcohol.

It said employers may not be in a position to insist on standards of conduct at functions if they serve unlimited amounts of free alcohol, the commission found.

An employee at Leighton Boral Amey Joint Venture drank about 10 beers and one vodka and coke, including two stubbies before he arrived.

At the Christmas party, he told a company director and a senior project manager to "f--- off". He asked a colleague: "Who the f--- are you? What do you even do here?"

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