Australian workers with intellectual disabilities could be eligible to receive backpay for the unlawfully discriminatory wages, thanks to an agreement Maurice Blackburn Lawyers reached on behalf of about 10,000 workers in a class action against the Federal Government. But those eligible must register for the payment scheme before the end of April 2017 to receive any entitlements.
Class action launched
The pro bono class action, which was run in conjunction with the AED Legal Centre, was launched against the Commonwealth of Australia in the Federal Court and alleged that disabled workers working in Australian Disability Enterprises were being unfairly discriminated against.
Lead plaintiff Tyson Duval-Comrie claimed the use of the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) to determine pro-rata wages for people working at Australian Disability Enterprises discriminated against people with intellectual disabilities, in contravention of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
The Full Federal Court decided in a 2012 case that was brought against the Commonwealth by two individual workers with intellectual disabilities that using BSWAT to set the wages of intellectually disabled workers was discriminatory and contravened the Act.
Maurice Blackburn’s class action sought an end to the discrimination, and compensation for those workers who lost wages as a result of the discrimination. An agreement estimated to be worth more than $100 million was subsequently reached between the parties, which was approved by the Federal Court in December 2016.
Affected workers will receive an amount directly from the government in a scheme administered by the government – provided they register before April 30 2017.
How do workers register?
Workers can register for the BSWAT Payment Scheme by:
A person can apply for the scheme on behalf of a deceased person who would otherwise have been eligible for the scheme.
Find out more information on the Department of Social Services website