All employees have workplace rights and can't be harmed or subjected to an ‘adverse action’ by an employer for exercising these rights. At Maurice Blackburn we lead the way in prosecuting successful adverse action claims in Australia. We have won and settled cases against some of the biggest employers in the country and the wins have set precedents for compensating employees.

Many matters can be settled without need to go to litigation. In particularly strong cases, we have obtained substantial 6-figure settlements. If a matter does go to court, it is up to your employer to prove that it did not take adverse action against you because you exercised a workplace right.

In the cases that we have won at trial, we have obtained orders for back-pay, compensation for hurt and humiliation, and penalties. Other possible remedies include reinstatement and apologies.

Time limits apply in cases of adverse action, so it’s important to get advice as soon as possible.

Settlement against International Aviation Service Assistance

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association v International Aviation Service Assistance Pty Ltd [2011] 193 FCR 526

In 2009, in the first successful case under the Fair Work Act 2009, Maurice Blackburn prosecuted International Aviation Service Assistance for dismissing an employee because he had complained about his employment, and because he had taken his employer to court. Maurice Blackburn's employment lawyers proved to the Federal Court that the employer had lied about his performance, and then relied on those lies to terminate the employment.

The employee was awarded a year's pay, interest, and compensation for the hurt and humiliation he had endured.

Murray v QANTAS

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association v Qantas Airways Ltd [2012] FMCA 711

In 2012 Maurice Blackburn prosecuted Qantas in the Federal Magistrates Court for taking adverse action against a licensed aircraft engineer. We proved to the court that Qantas cancelled all possible international postings for Mr Murray because he made an enquiry about his pay when he was posted overseas. We also proved to the court that Mr Murray was intimidated by a senior manager at Qantas who was trying to coerce Mr Murray into dropping his claim.

Qantas and the manager in question were ordered to pay $16,000 in penalties to Mr Murray.

FAQs - your questions answered

A workplace right includes making a complaint or enquiry in relation to your employment. There are also whistle-blower protections for you in your employment. These protections apply to all employees, from construction workers to Senior Executives, irrespective of what you earn.

The Fair Work Act 2009 prevents your employer pretending that you are a contractor when in fact you are an employee. You also can't be dismissed from your employment because you were temporarily absent from work (up to three months across one year). The Act provides a range of general conditions most workers are entitled to in Australia.

Under the Act, adverse action includes termination of employment, changing your conditions to your detriment, disciplinary action and discrimination. 

If a matter does go to court, it is up to the employer to prove that it did not take adverse action against you because you exercised a workplace right.  It is important to note that time limits apply in making applications so get advice as soon as possible.