ZUL RAFIQUE & partners’ Employment & Industrial Relations team, Ms Wong Keat Ching and Mr Muhamad Sharulnizam Mohd Roni, succeeded in defending Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) in an unfair dismissal claim in the case of Khaw Yao Shun v PETRONAS. Khaw Yao Shun (‘the Claimant’) was a former Executive (Mechanical Engineering), who was charged for misconduct relating to workplace bullying or harassment towards a colleague as well as deliberate damage of the Company’s property, by pouring hot beverage onto a colleague’s laptop.

In this case, the Industrial Court held that the Claimant’s total denial of his action and lack of remorse had caused the Company to lose all trust and confidence in him. The acts of misconduct of the Claimant were very serious because there was a victim involved and the Company could not condone such acts of misconduct committed by the Claimant against another employee within the workplace. The Claimant’s acts of misconduct had caused an unconducive workplace environment and breached PETRONAS’ values of mutual and reciprocal respect, which are stated clearly in the PETRONAS Code of Conduct and Business Ethics (CoBE). Harassment, be it workplace harassment or sexual harassment, are very serious misconducts which warrant nothing less than the punishment of dismissal.

The Court is also of the view that discipline at the workplace is the sine qua non (an essential condition) for the efficient working of the Company. Given that the Company has a huge work force, discipline and civility amongst its employees must be maintained to ensure a conducive, safe and harmonious work environment. The 3 charges proved against the Claimant were sufficiently serious to justify the punishment of dismissal against the Claimant.

For more insight into this area of law, please contact our Partners in Employment & Industrial Relations Practice Group: P Jayasingam, Wong Keat Ching & Thavaselvi Pararajasingam.