Resources: Blogs

Adverse action claim initiated against professional football club

Blogs
|

Adverse action claim initiated against professional football club

The Chief Operating Officer of Macarthur and South West United FC has launched legal proceedings against the Club, the Club Chair and another director alleging breaches of the general protections provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The Chief Operating Officer of Macarthur and South West United FC (the Club) has launched legal proceedings against the Club, the Club Chair and another director alleging breaches of the general protections provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).

The FW Act provides protections including but not limited to, protection from adverse action for exercising workplace rights, for engaging in industrial activity and for temporary absence due to illness or injury. The FW Act also provides protection from discrimination on the basis of a protected attribute.

Penalties apply for breaches of the adverse action provisions of the FW Act. The maximum penalty is currently $12,600 for an individual and $63,000 for a body corporate.

In his claim filed in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the employee has alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of his caring responsibilities in breach of section 351 of the FW Act. The employee alleges that, after the Club Chair was appointed in February 2020, his duties were reallocated to another director without consultation.

The employee also claims that the Club Chair refused to assure him of the security of his position and that this uncertainty caused him mental distress. The employee claims that his health worsened following allegations from the Club Chair that he had breached his employment contract by forwarding work emails to a personal email account, and after a journalist indicated to him that his position was under threat as he was going to be “purged” by the Club.

The employee has been certified as unfit from work since March 2020 and has not worked since this time.

In the claim, the employee is seeking $200,000 in damages for shock and distress, medical expenses, his costs for relocating from Queensland to Sydney and for diminution of employment opportunities. The employee is also seeking compensation and penalties for breaches of the FW Act.

Under the FW Act, the Federal Circuit Court also has the power to “make any order the court considers appropriate” if it is satisfied that a person has contravened a civil remedy provision, such as the general protections provisions. This includes making an order to award compensation for loss suffered as a result of the contravention, as sought by the employee in this matter.

Lessons for Employers

This claim is an important reminder to sporting organisations, professional or otherwise, that the general protections provisions in the FW Act apply to all employers and significant penalties can apply for contraventions. It is also a timely reminder that an employee does not have to be dismissed from their employment before they can make a general protections claim. An employee may make a claim alleging adverse action at any time during their employment.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

Employer unlawfully discriminated against employee with breastfeeding responsibilities

It’s a tent-s situation

There are a number of personal attributes that are protected by Australia’s federal and state anti-discrimination laws, such as a person’s race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibilities, breastfeeding, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

Read more...

Employer’s withdrawal of role constituted dismissal from employment

Late withdrawal

For most employers, casual employment is favoured because of the flexibility it provides – employees are employed as required and have no guarantee of ongoing employment. This flexibility however does not mean that casual employees are not protected from adverse action.

Read more...

Redundancies and the skills matrix

The Matrix is a system, Neo

When implementing redundancies, it is critical that the process for selecting employees for redundancy is a transparent and objective one. A skills matrix can assist employers in this regard by creating clear and objective criteria against which employees are to be assessed.

Read more...

Commission confirms inappropriate touching constituted sexual harassment warranting summary dismissal

‘Scuse you

Sexual harassment in the workplace has been the subject of significant reform over the past few years, with an even greater onus on employers now to take proactive measures to minimise or eliminate the risk of sexual harassment in connection with work.

Read more...

Employers delay sinks bid for injunctive relief

Speak now

When seeking to enforce a restraint, it is important that employers seek to enforce the restraint in a timely manner to prevent future or an ongoing breach. Any delay will be considered by the courts when assessing whether it is reasonable to enforce the restraint.

Read more...

Two-year post-employment restraint on hairdresser found to be unreasonable

Splitting hairs

When it comes to drafting post-employment restraints in employment contracts, it is important for employers to consider the purpose of the restraint and whether or not the restraint reasonably serves that purpose.

Read more...

Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Sign up to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to your inbox.