Phone-throwing, swearing pharmacist loses unfair dismissal appeal

Person cleaning out their desk

A pharmacist who threw a phone and verbally abused his business partner and told a staff member to “go and tell more lies,” among other incidents, has had his application for an unfair dismissal remedy dismissed.

The pharmacist was employed by Foster Pharmacy originally as an independent contractor locum, and from 2012, a part owner of the business, owning a 25% share, director and permanent pharmacist.

In 2015 he was fired following an investigation into his behaviour after Kayleen Thomas provided a written complaint about him to Jane McGovern, who owned 50% of the business.

An external investigator was appointed to conduct a formal investigation into the pharmacist’s behaviour, and shortly afterwards the other part owner, Chi Chiu, also made a formal complaint.

Several weeks later the pharmacist’’s employment was terminated with immediate effect and he was later removed as a director of the business.

Thomas’ complaint to McGovern included allegations of swearing at her, “I’m printing the f**king report” in front of a customer and then “wacking” the printout on the dispensary. She also complained that he later said, “Go tell more lies,” when she was leaving the pharmacy and telling her to “start smiling and smirking”.

Chiu complained that during a QCPP assessment the assessor asked him about his parents’ citizenship application, and that the pharmacist said, “he would pay for [Chiu’s] parents not coming to Australia”.

Chiu also said that when he suggested that they no longer needed the PBS claim box, the pharmacist yelled “Are you stupid?” at him in front of other staff members. When Chiu replied that he was not stupid, the pharmacist told him to get used to it and did not apologise until the matter was raised at a subsequent business partners’ meeting, Chiu said.

He said that on one occasion the pharmacist threw his phone to the corner of the bench of the dispensary where Chiu was standing and yelled at him.

Chiu also complained that the pharmacist“spoke into his face” and said, “you are as weak as piss” and that he told McGovern that Chiu was gay as he didn’t have a stable relationship.

Several of the 22 allegations that arose from interviews were substantiated, the Court found:

  • “Ms Thomson called in sick with a headache. [The pharmacist] knew it was a headache, but told Leanne that Ms Thomson had haemorrhoids.”
  • The swearing incident when printing a medication sheet.
  • “[The pharmacist] said to Ms Thomson, ‘go tell more lies,’ and ‘off you go with that smirk on your face’.
  • The incident in which the pharmacist threw a phone and verbally abused Chiu.
  • “[The pharmacist] saying to Mr Chiu that he was ‘weak as piss’.”
  • “Staff feeling fearful and intimidated by [the pharmacist]. Only substantiated with respect to Mr Chiu and Ms Thomson.”
  • “[The pharmacist] was angry about the loss of a measuring cylinder and threw his pen in temper in Mr Chiu’s direction. Partially substantiated.”
  • “[The pharmacist] saying he would pay for Mr Chiu’s parents to not come out to Australia. Substantiated but not as a racist remark.”


The Court noted other descriptions of the incidents, in which the pharmacist yelled at Chiu in front of customers and continued to yell at him after he was asked to take the conversation into the back room.

Fair Work Commission Deputy President Anne Gooley said that she was satisfied that McGovern had made her decision about the pharmacist’s employment after considering the report by the external investigator, and the pharmacist’s response to it.

“I am satisfied her belief that [the pharmacist]’s presence in the pharmacy posed a risk to the health and safety of employees was reasonable,” Gooley noted.

The pharmacist’s application for an unfair dismissal remedy was dismissed.

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