A former CSIRO technician who says he was sacked from the organisation over a Big Mac hamburger is battling to get his job back.
Jack Hoffman has taken his reinstatement fight to Fair Work Australia, alleging that his bosses at the Deep Space Communications Complex south of Canberra were “harsh and unreasonable” when they stood him down after the technician treated himself to some drive-thru on the way home from work one evening in May.
The 10-year CSIRO veteran was driving a work car when he bought his burger and was spotted by fellow workers, “dobbed-in” to management and stood down for misconduct; the private use of a company car.
The 49-year-old was re-instated in early June but he resigned a month later, claiming he was subjected to a concerted campaign of bullying and harassment.
He is now trying to get his job back, claiming constructive dismissal and that his managers were looking for ways to “get rid” of him.
The two sides will meet at a FWA conciliation hearing on December 10.
In his FWA application, Mr Hoffman said he was forced out of the job he loved.
“It was a constructive dismissal; I was forced to resign from my position as I could not tolerate the bullying, victimisation, harassment, humiliation and ridicule that I was forced to suffer in my workplace,” the application reads.
He told The Canberra Times that he was simply hungry when he pulled into the Conder branch of McDonalds for a burger.
“I hadn't eaten all day at work, I was hungry and I was very tired after a very difficult week at work,” he said.
“When I stopped at McDonalds, which was on my direct route home, I wasn't thinking and I simply reacted instinctively and this was not deliberate conduct on my behalf.
“Can you believe I lost my job over a Big Mac?”
CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said on Tuesday that it would be inappropriate to comment on the case while it was before the FWA.
The Canberra Times revealed on Tuesday that the federal workplace insurance authority has issued an ‘improvement notice’ to CSIRO, instructing that its responses to bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict, psychological stress or injuries were not good enough.
The notice comes after years of public allegations of a toxic workplace culture at CSIRO which employs about 6600 staff in 50 locations around Australia and overseas.
CSIRO confirmed on Monday that it was in receipt of the notice and has begun work to comply with its instructions.
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