Woman sacked after company tracked her computer while working from home
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Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Suzie Cheikho / Pexels
A woman claims her former employer 'unfairly dismissed' her after tracking her computer activity while she worked from home.
Suzie Cheikho - from Sydney - used to work as a consultant for Insurance Australia Group Service Australia Ltd (IAG).
The former employee had worked at the company since May 2005, however, she was sacked in February earlier this year after allegations of misconduct arose.
A workplace tribunal has since ruled in IAG's favour, finding Cheikho had a 'valid reason' for firing her.
Prepare to panic and start frantically bashing out random typing on your own keyboard next time you log on from home.
Cheikho was part of the outbound comms team at IAG and - while the company had a hybrid working approach - and worked from home on 'almost permanent basis', according to a Fair Work Commission document.
In its reasons for firing her, IAG stated Cheikho failed to 'work as required' from October to December 2022.
The insurance group alleged that there were 'significant periods where no or minimal keyboard activity was present' while Cheikho was working from home, so she didn't actually work her contracted 7.8 hours for 44 hours out of 49 working days.
The company knew this because it revealed it had been tracking the employee's laptop, logging her computer strokes.
They went on to claim that Cheikho 'failing to work during her designated working hours' alongside 'missing deadlines and not communicating effectively' put 'additional pressures on her work colleagues' which IAG believes created a 'work health and safety risk'.
Cheikho then made an application to the Fair Work Commission on 13 March, claiming she'd been 'unfairly dismissed'.
The Fair Work Commission document states: "The Applicant submitted that there was no valid reason for the dismissal, that the Respondent [IAG] had a premeditated plan to remove her from the business and that she was targeted due to her mental health issues.
"The Applicant denied that the results of the review of her cyber activity in the October to December 2022 period reflected the reality of the work she was doing in that period."
According to the document, Cheikho said: "I just don't use this device. I doubt the data. I don't believe for a minute it's true."
She also argued that she used her phone for work too, and there were 'extended periods where she was just reading and checking the wording of documents and did not have to do anything else'.
If Cheikho did leave her laptop during working hours - such as for a medical appointment - she claimed she would let another member of the team know and would 'make up the time afterwards'.
IAG responded to Cheikho's claims, arguing it held various meetings with the former employee to discuss the concerns, particularly after the company was fined when a task failed to be completed by Cheikho.
She allegedly showed up to a meeting with the word, 'F**k' written on her hand.
Cheikho sought 'compensation' for her dismissal, however, the Fair Work Commission has since ruled in IAG's favour.
It resolved that Cheikho failed to work her rostered hours, showed up late and that there was indeed 'low keystroke activity on her laptop'.
It also stated the dismissal 'was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable' and the company had 'a valid reason' for firing Cheikho.
Tyla has contacted IAG for comment.