Friendly advice not so helpful in TNT case

Long-time TNT Express worker quits job and then launches unfair dismissal months after leaving

By Brad Gardner | November 19, 2010

A former TNT Express worker might think twice before accepting his friend’s advice again after losing an unfair dismissal claim against the transport operator.

Fair Work Australia has thrown out Ikimata Sau’s bid for a time extension on lodging a claim, which he decided to make after a friend told him to pursue the matter.

Sau’s claim was made 59 days after the time limit for an application expired and he had actually resigned from his position.

He argued for an extension on the basis that he did not fully understand what was going on due to difficulties with the English language and he was unaware interpreter services were available to him.

Commissioner Ian Cambridge says Sau did not provide evidence showing that his ignorance of interpreter services stopped him or someone from acting on his behalf in lodging an unfair dismissal application.

"In this instance it was difficult to comprehend the reason for the delay. It appeared that the lodgement of the application was prompted by advice from a friend and that this advice enlightened the applicant to language interpreter services that were available to him," Cambridge says.

"However, the explanation about how his language difficulties manifest as a reason for the delay in the lodgement of the application was not satisfactory."

Sau’s wife had written his resignation letter, and Cambridge says she could have applied for unfair dismissal on her husband’s behalf. The Fair Work Act requires people to submit applications within 14 days of being dismissed.

"Consequently I have not been persuaded that ignorance of interpreter services represented a valid reason for the delay in the lodgement of the application," Cambridge says.

Fair Work Australia was told the Transport Workers Union advised Sau to resign.

"Further, there was some obvious difficulty associated with the potential prospects for success of a claim for unfair dismissal in circumstances where the applicant provided a written resignation," Cambridge says.

TNT opposed the application for a time extension, saying Sau did not provide adequate reasons for delaying a claim and that the company had received his resignation in writing.

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