Dismissal of an Employee Due to Intellectual Property Theft

In September 2021, a former employee made a claim for unfair dismissal against Amplified AI (the Employer), with the matter proceeding to formal arbitration in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

The Employer discovered that the employee had made a design system available online, with remarkable similarities to one he was developing in his capacity as its employee.

The former employee argued that since the Employer had taken a week to dismiss him, following their discovery that he had allegedly stolen intellectual property, they clearly did not view his actions as sufficiently serious to justify dismissal.

The FWC however, found in favour of the Employer as a small business employer, stating that it was reasonable for the Employer to have taken the time and resources to seek legal advice on whether the employee’s actions were sufficient grounds for dismissal.

This case provides a timely reminder to small businesses to promptly seek legal advice when uncertain about the conduct and/or performance of employees.

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