A teacher at a prestigious all-boys private high school in Brisbane’s inner-city was fired after he sent an email criticising “the big end of town” to a number of recipients instead of the sole intended party.
Stanislaw Kosiek has since sued Marist College Ashgrove, in the city’s inner-north, for unfair dismissal.
Kosiek was employed as a science teacher at the school for approximately 22 years before the incident.
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On February 17, this year, Kosiek intended to email his union representative, Madonna Spillane — but instead of hitting reply, he hit reply all.
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He then inadvertently emailed multiple people, complaining about a fellow staff member, who he referred to as “the big end of town”. That fellow staff member was among the email recipients.
In the email, Kosiek said issues at the school were previously “resolved calmly, professionally and successfully” but current leadership in the IT area “has been less than adequate”.
The staff were “not cutting the mustard”, he said.
“We have amazing IT staff but recently the big end of town (need to) stop feeding at the pool tuck shop and live up to their $250,000 job!”
Marist College Ashgrove science teacher Stanislaw Kosiek. Credit: Linkedin
Two days later, Kosiek replied to the same people and withdrew the email.
He then met with the Head of College, Michael Newman, on February 20. In this meeting, Kosiek was told by Newman that he was being stood down.
Kosiek was given a letter to respond to, which detailed a number of concerns in response to his email.
Newman said Kosiek’s email had caused “great upset” and said he was concerned it “may amount to a breach of our Code of Conduct and a breach of employee privacy” or “serious misconduct or bullying”.
The email sent by Kosiek was sent to more people than he intended. Credit: Federal Court of Australia
Kosiek was placed on paid stand-down leave while he prepared his response to the five-page letter.
He was authorised to use his sick leave from April 17 to May 28 instead of his long service leave after providing a medical certificate.
Kosiek had previously arranged an overseas holiday from May 12 to May 23, with long service leave approved.
He sent an email advising that medical advice had approved his travel and asked for someone to arrange for leave without pay during his trip, as he could not access school software while being stood down.
Marist College Ashgrove, in Brisbane’s inner-north. Credit: Bertknot from Scarborough, Australia/Wikimedia
On July 11, Kosiek returned to the school as a teacher.
However, on July 27 he was advised that “significant concerns” had arisen about his position.
One of these concerns was that he had gone on an overseas holiday while on sick leave.
He was also told the apology he had given to the teacher referenced in his February email was not adequate as he had apologised directly to the staff member instead of sending it through an intermediary.
Kosiek was then stood down again from his role, and later formally terminated in a letter on August 9.
His lawyers argued he had a right to make a workplace complaint, and was transparent about his holiday, and had been unjustly fired.
The school’s lawyers argued Kosiek’s relationships with his superiors had broken down, his return as a teacher would cause stress to the workplace and he “was a person who in the future would not inspire trust and confidence in his performance in a senior leadership role”.
A Federal Court justice has now ordered Kosiek’s case to trial. He is seeking re-employment, compensation and penalties.
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