Worker 'sacked herself', now wants her job back
A FALSE fire alarm sparked a sequence of strange events at Southern Suburbs Football Club in September that ended when receptionist Mary Frances Conelius "sacked herself".
Now, the 57-year-old wants her job back and Fair Work commissioner Jennifer Hunt must decide if she was unfairly dismissed after a hearing on Thursday at Mackay Court House.
Ms Conelius admitted yelling at Nikki Edgar on September 8 was "rude", and grounds for immediate dismissal under the induction booklet she signed when she started working at Souths in 2014.
Just over an hour after she started her shift a false fire alarm started beeping, a common problem at the club when it rained, metres away from Ms Conelius.
Ms Conelius was supposed to turn off the alarm immediately before it triggered a full-scale alarm 90 seconds later.
But Ms Conelius said she was half-way through writing down the details of a customer. She said she turned around to see duty manager Luke Turner disabling the beeping alongside human relations manager Nikki Edgar.
Ms Edgar went over to Ms Conelius and asked her if she knew the protocol for the fire alarm.
That's when Ms Conelius shouted "no no no" at her. "I had no control over what happened," Ms Conelius told the commission. Everyone who spoke at the hearing said it was out of character for Ms Conelius.
Ms Conelius was sent home and asked to attend to a meeting the next day.
Evidence from Ms Edgar, who was running the meeting, stated Ms Conelius was not going to be sacked, Ms Conelius disagreed.
"I still don't think it was rude enough to be sacked. I didn't swear at Nikki, I didn't abuse her verbally, I didn't call her not nice names." she said.
Mr Conelius said she could not remember being told she had been sacked at the meeting. But she was.
In Ms Edgar's statement "Mary then got upset and said 'you might as well say you're going to sack me'".
"I could see she was very angry. She was tearful. She threw her bag over her shoulder, grabbed the office door and as she stepped through, I said to Mary 'you no longer work here at Souths," he statement was read to the commission.
In her cross-examination Ms Edgar said the situation had escalated so quickly there was no other option.
"It escalated very very quickly in the moment," she told the commission. "I wasn't there to sack her. I believe she sacked herself."
In his closing statements, Ms Conelius' legal representative Peter Clark, said Ms Conelius was badgered at the meeting and it should have been postponed when she became emotional.
He said she should be reinstated because there was no sustained criticisms around her performances and three of the four managers who spoke at the hearing said they would work with her again.
Mr Elliott finished by stating that Ms Conelius' conduct was unacceptable and pointed to her testimony where she stated she couldn't guarantee she wouldn't have an outburst again.
"We gave (Ms Conelius) an opportunity and it turned into an angry outburst," he said.
Commissioner Hunt adjourned the hearing to make her decision.