Why a religious leader claimed child sex abuse was no reason for him to lose job

You’ve heard of people claiming unfair dismissal for a range of reasons.

But a case last month before the Fair Work Commission heard from a man who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a child.

Joseph Wakim was a church leader, author and highly respected member of the Arab community, who was sentenced to 20 months jail  in July for sexually penetrating a 13-year-old boy on Boxing Day last year.

Mr Wakim is arguing that he was unfairly dismissed from his job because he pleaded guilty to the crime.

That he was unfairly dismissed because of pleading guilty.

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You might be wondering why he claimed that?

Well, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Wakim launched an unfair dismissal proceeding against his employer Bluestar Global Logistics after the fired him when they found out he pleaded guilty to the crime.

Wakim pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court on April 1, but his bosses didn’t know about that until April 5.

They described it as a “head exploding moment”.

He had told them he needed time off because of a “traumatic incident” that involved police.

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Wakim protested that he had “been punished enough” when he was told to stay home from work by Bluestar.

When they fired him on May 4, he went to the Fair Work Commission the next day.

So, what happened at the Fair Work Commission hearing?

Well, Wakim appeared via video-link from prison – telling the commission there was “no valid reason” for him losing his job.

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He claimed he was denied procedural fairness and wanted to be pay 26 weeks’ compensation.

Wakim said he felt “guilt, shame, remorse, disgust” and disbelief for his crime, describing it as “non-deliberate”.

But that’s not all he said.

He claimed he didn’t breach the company’s code of conduct because he didn’t do anything to deliberately being Bluestar in disrepute.

If you’re wondering what the Fair Work Commission had to say, they rejected his claims.

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Vice-president Adam Hatchersaid Wakim intentionally tried to hide the facts of his crime from his employer.

“It might be thought surprising that Mr Wakim advanced this submission given the emphasis he sought to place upon his remorse and acceptance of responsibility for his crime,” he said.

“But Mr Wakim appears simultaneously to have convinced himself that he is a victim of his own crime.”

The Fair Work Commission declared Wakim’s sacking was fair and dismissed his application.

Do you agree with the Fair Work Commission’s decision? Should Wakim have even been able to lodge the application in the first place?