BHP Coal has been ordered to rehire a long-serving employee and give him $44,000 in lost earnings after the Fair Work Commission found he was unfairly dismissed for refusing to train a contractor.

What’s going on here?

Gregory Macklin’s primary role at BHP was a grader in their coal mining department at the BMA Goonyella Riverside Mine in central Queensland.

The worker already had two complaints against him during his employment. In 2016, he told a female bus driver who asked him to put on his seat belt that “you need to concentrate on driving as you are female”, and last year he made derogatory comments during a training course after a female manager said women returning to work needed breastfeeding facilities.

In May last year, he was asked by his supervisor to train a contractor on a truck. Gregory said no, who mistakenly thought it wasn’t a part of his role. He also stated he did not train contractors “that will take my job”, and had never trained a contractor in the decades he worked for BHP.

When he realized he was supposed to train contractors, he apologised and said it would not happen again. However, he was sacked.

The decision

Fair Work Commissioner Jennifer Hunt ordered Gregory to be reinstated.

She also found that a mine superintendent wrongly believed Gregory have trained contractors before. The superintendent also accused a mining union representative of coaching Gregory to provide a convenient excuse, which the Commissioner rejected.

Ms Hunt said

Mr Macklin is properly advised to get on with his work, follow ­direction, embrace change and above all, be respectful to all he encounters, whether he agrees with them or not,’’

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