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Employee compensated for distress caused by adverse action

The employee was an Indonesian citizen employed as an aircraft engineer.  The employee complained about overtime payments and roster issues.  Soon after, the employee refused to stay back at work as required, because his supervisor would not guarantee he would be paid overtime. 

The employee was dismissed, but was reinstated following Federal Court proceedings.  Shortly after, the employer rated the employee as unsatisfactory in an assessment in a renewal authorisation application for its engineers.  The employee’s re-authorisation was refused and his employment was terminated on that basis.  The employee was unable to find another sponsor for his working visa and was forced to return to Indonesia.

The Federal Court held the employer had taken unlawful adverse action against the employee by providing a negative assessment and dismissing him.  The Court held the adverse action was taken because the employee had made a complaint in relation to his employment and had initiated and participated in proceedings under a workplace law.  It did not matter that the exercise of these workplace rights had occurred before commencement of the Fair Work Act because the adverse action had taken place after commencement of that Act.  The Court ordered a total of $85,000 compensation and penalties, including $7,500 for pain and suffering.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers v International Aviations Service Assistance Pty Ltd [2011] FCA 333; Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association v International Aviation Service Assistance Pty Ltd (No 2) [2011] FCA 394

 

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