Maurice Blackburn wins temporary reprieve on disabled workers court action
23 January 2014
The Federal Government has agreed to hold off from initiating further contact with underpaid intellectually disabled workers who are part of a Maurice Blackburn class action over unfair pay.
The employment law firm says this move will affect up to 10,000 workers at disability enterprises around Australia, and will protect these workers from the risk of being misled into signing away their legal rights.
Under a payment scheme announced last week, the Government said it would make a one-off payment to intellectually disabled workers who had been unfairly paid - but only if they were not involved in the discrimination class action.
On Monday, Maurice Blackburn lodged an application asking for all communication between the Government and the workers to be supervised by the court, so that employees were not unfairly persuaded into waiving their legal rights.
Josh Bornstein, head of Maurice Blackburn's employment practice, said the Government has since agreed to temporarily stop initiating communication with disabled workers until the first class action court hearing in three weeks.
The application seeking court supervision of communication has now been adjourned to mid-February, where it will be heard as part of the first directions hearing of the class action.
"We welcome the Government's agreement not to initiate any further contact with potential class action members, who are among the most vulnerable and low-paid workers in our community," Mr Bornstein said.
"This is a positive step that will help to protect intellectually disabled workers from being misled into waiving their legal rights, until the application for court supervision of future communication can be dealt with by the court.
"We are hopeful of a speedy resolution to our class action over the underpayment of thousands of intellectually disabled workers around Australia."