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High Court upholds freedom to contract casually

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The Facts

Robert Rossato was employed by WorkPac, a labour-hire company pursuant to a series of six contracts, or “assignments” between 28 July 2014 and 9 April 2018, when he retired. During that time, WorkPac provided his services to Glencore at one or other of the Collinsville and Newlands mines. Each contract was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment – Flat Rate” except for the third contract, which was entitled “Notice of Offer of Casual Employment”. At all relevant times, WorkPac treated Mr Rossato as a casual employee.

Most of the time, Rossato worked according to either a “7/7 roster” (seven days on, seven days off) or a “5/5/4 roster” (five days on, five days off, four days on, five days off, five days on, four days off). The only exceptions to these arrangements were when he undertook additional training or inductions, and during mine shutdowns. Rossato was never asked by WorkPac or Glencore whether he intended to attend work on a day he was rostered; nor did Rossato ever enquire whether he would be required to attend work on a day he was rostered.

On 2 October 2018, in reliance on the decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131, Rossato wrote to WorkPac claiming that he had not worked for it as a casual employee, and claiming that he was entitled to be paid for untaken annual leave, public holidays, and periods of personal leave and compassionate leave taken by him during his employment. These entitlements were said to be due under the Fair Work Act 2009 and the WorkPac Pty Ltd Mining (Coal) Industry Enterprise Agreement 2012, which governed Rossato’s employment.
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Bangalow lawyer loses appeal against successful sexual harassment suit

Posted on Categories Industrial relations, Professional discipline Tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 3 Comments on Bangalow lawyer loses appeal against successful sexual harassment suit

Former solicitor Owen Hughes, who likened himself to “a sleek kangaroo” and novelist Jane Austen’s noble brooder Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, has lost his appeal against a judgment for sexual harassment he perpetrated against an employee.

Hughes

This blog had previously reported on the Owen Hughes sexual harassment case brought by a former employee of his law practice.

The facts

Junior/trainee solicitor Catherine Mia Hill began working with Owen Hughes’ Bangalow based law firm Beesley and Hughes Lawyers in May 2015. Soon after,  Hughes offered to represent her in a mediation for her own family law matter, and she agreed.

A couple of months later, Hughes started his course of sexual harassment by sending Hill emails telling her that he thought she was attractive, and he wanted to be in a relationship with her.

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Employee caught stealing alcohol ‘unfairly dismissed’

Posted on Categories Industrial relations Tags , , , , , , , 3 Comments on Employee caught stealing alcohol ‘unfairly dismissed’
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The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is known for sometimes making unfair dismissal decisions which arguably are counter-intuitive and/or contrary to community standards and expectations. The following case, in which a Qantas employee was caught stealing and later lied about the stealing, is an excellent example.

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Bangalow lawyer Owen Hughes successfully sued for sexual harassment

Posted on Categories civil litigation, Industrial relations, Professional discipline Tags , , , , , , , , , , , , 4 Comments on Bangalow lawyer Owen Hughes successfully sued for sexual harassment

A Bangalow solicitor’s sexual harassment of a single mum who worked for him has proven to be costly, and may well end his legal career.

Hughes

This blog had previously reported on the Owen Hughes sexual harassment case brought by a former employee of his law practice.

The facts

Junior/trainee solicitor Catherine Mia Hill began working with Owen Hughes’ Bangalow based law firm Beesley and Hughes Lawyers in May 2015. The evidence showed that that he thought Hill was attractive, wanted to be in a relationship with her and that he communicated that to her.  Hughes offered to represent her in a mediation for her own family law matter, and she agreed. Continue reading “Bangalow lawyer Owen Hughes successfully sued for sexual harassment”

Israel Folau settles claim with Rugby Australia

Posted on Categories civil litigation, Industrial relations, Liberty, litigation, Unfair dismissal Tags , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment on Israel Folau settles claim with Rugby Australia

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Following a marathon mediation, former Wallabies star Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have settled their dispute over the termination of Folau’s employment with Rugby Australia after he made controversial comments on Twitter about homosexuality.

The case was notable and of political significance because it highlighted the tensions between the rights of employers to dismiss workers to preserve their own reputational interests, freedom of religion, and employees being able to publicly express their own opinions outside of work. Continue reading “Israel Folau settles claim with Rugby Australia”

Gladstone worker suspended for speaking with Bill Shorten

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Gladstone worker suspended for speaking with Bill Shorten

The facts

On 23 April 2019, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten campaigned at the Queensland government-owned Gladstone Ports. At a free barbeque, an electrical engineer told Shorten that “It would be good to see higher-wage earners given a tax break’’. Shorten replied with “We’re going to look at that”, a claim which appeared to be at odds with his policy of slugging those with above average incomes with higher taxes. Continue reading “Gladstone worker suspended for speaking with Bill Shorten”

Professor Peter Ridd wins dismissal case against James Cook University

Posted on Categories Human rights, Industrial relations, Liberty, litigation, Unfair dismissal Tags , , , , , 2 Comments on Professor Peter Ridd wins dismissal case against James Cook University

Last year, Professor Peter Ridd was sacked by James Cook University after speaking out on issues relating to climate change research.

He took James Cook University to the Federal Circuit Court, arguing his termination of employment was unlawful.

Today, Ridd has won his case, with the Court awarding judgment in his favour:

“Handing down his decision today, judge Salvatore Vasta said that the 17 findings used by the university to justify the sacking were unlawful.

“The Court rules that the 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful,” Judge Vasta said.

A penalty hearing will be set for a later date.

At a hearing last month, Professor Ridd’s barrister Stuart Wood argued his client was entitled to criticise his colleagues and the university’s perceived lack of quality assurance processes.”

This is a win for free speech and academic freedom.

 

Law firm partner sued for sexual harassment

Posted on Categories Industrial relations, Legal profession, litigation, Professional discipline Tags , , 2 Comments on Law firm partner sued for sexual harassment

Single Mum feared no job

The legal profession gets rocked by a #metoo claim.

The partner of the firm has at a minimum acted unprofessionally in this case and the implications for his career could be serious.

 

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