The average score from completed surveys was then attributed to each customer service employee to form their Customer Experience Marker (CEM). A score above 4.5 out of five entitled employees to receive their commission bonus for that month.
On January 4 this year, Mr Brennan was issued with a “first and final warning letter” about his survey results, which he was told were below the national benchmark and in the bottom half of service advisers across the Audi Australia group. His scores had varied between 4.1 and 4.5.
On March 22, he attended a meeting with his manager, Daniel Nicholson, who gave him a letter terminating his employment effective immediately. He received two weeks’ pay in lieu of notice, plus outstanding wages and leave entitlements.
Mr Nicholson said he had observed Mr Brennan being “short” with customers and not making eye contact, and said he also arrived at work one day in an unironed shirt.
In his unfair dismissal claim, Mr Brennan complained to the Commission that Audi Indooroopilly had unfairly attributed the results of the customer survey as a reflection of his performance.
Mr Brennan stated it was unfair to be held personally accountable for the poor customer feedback that may have been given due to work undertaken on a customer’s vehicle – something outside Mr Brennan’s control.
The Commission upheld his claim for unfair dismissal, noting that Mr Brennan’s scores “were improving” and highlighting the “inherent unfairness” of attributing the entire service experience to the service adviser alone.
The Commission criticised Audi Australia, an ASX-listed company with 1400 employees across its entities, for failing to handle the termination appropriately.
“For such a large organisation not to have some human resource management specialists is astounding,” it said.
The Commission also criticised Audi Indooroopilly for requiring customer-facing staff such as Mr Brennan to rank in the top 50 per cent of all service advisers across the Audi Australia group.
“While it is certainly a virtuous goal … mathematics requires that half of the employees will [also] be in the bottom half.”
The company was ordered the to pay Mr Brennan compensation of $9,134.60 plus superannuation.