Law firm writes open letter to Senators on class action for disabled workers

3 September 2014
Lawyers representing about 10,000 disabled workers in a class action over unfair wages have today written an open letter to Senators in response to false claims it would take a cut of any compensation.

Under the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) bill, currently before parliament, disabled workers whose wages were calculated using a discriminatory tool could sign up for a payment scheme to recover part of their lost wages – but only if they abandoned their right to pursue legal action.

The open letter to senators from law firm Maurice Blackburn, which has filed the class action, comes after further public comments this week suggesting lawyers for the disabled workers would get a cut of any compensation, and that workers would have to pay tax on any settlement payout.

In the letter sent to Senators today, Josh Bornstein, principal at Maurice Blackburn, said the comments were incorrect.

“Maurice Blackburn is acting pro bono in the BSWAT class action. We have repeatedly stated publicly that we will not charge any worker with an intellectual disability who is part of the class action any legal fees for our work.”

Under the cost agreement with Claudine Duval, the mother of lead applicant Tyson, if the class action is successful any legal costs would be capped to the amount that the Federal Court orders the Commonwealth to pay.

“That means that not a single dollar will be paid to lawyers from any compensation that Tyson, or any other worker, is paid through the BSWAT class action,” Mr Bornstein said.

He also said that if the class action is successful, any settlement workers receive – combined with their income – will be, for the vast majority of workers, below the tax-free threshold.

More information on the class action