A former Van Dairy Group employee has taken the company to Fair Work claiming unfair dismissal after he was fired for allegedly driving a tanker of 700 litres of milk without permission and tagging 49 calves with his own tags.
Alistair Nicholls is contesting the charges in court and this month attempted to have the Fair Work Commission delay his unfair dismissal hearing until after these court matters had concluded.
Mr Nicholls was accused of driving the tanker on October 24 last year without permission for the milk to be removed, in addition to the calves tagging allegation. He was fired that day.
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The reasons for dismissal also included an allegation that items missing from Van Dairy Group were found on Mr Nicholls' property, including trailers and a tractor, and that he had allegedly charged Van Dairy for "various items for his personal use".
He had been charged with one count of stealing in relation to the cattle theft allegation. He pleaded not guilty in January, but his trial was delayed due to the cancellation of jury trials during COVID.
Mr Nicholls claimed it would be "fair and just" for Fair Work to grant him a stay until the criminal proceedings were dealt with.
"Further, it is submitted that if a stay is not granted, that this may disclose [Mr Nicholls'] defence to the criminal charges which would prejudice the criminal proceedings," the submissions to Fair Work read.
Van Dairy argued that it was unclear what prejudice could occur and that a "very strong case" must be argued to grant Mr Nicholls a "right to silence", but this case had not been made out.
The Fair Work Commission ruled that a stay should not be granted.
Both parties are now required to make submissions.