1300 366 441 for a free first interview
Ask about our No Win No Fee OR Expenses fee policy
Published: 07 February 2019
Author: Carla Cipressi
An employer who threatened workers for reporting a health and safety problem has been slapped with a $475,000 fine.
The case which was recently heard at the County Court highlights how employers may face serious consequences if they discriminate against workers who make a WorkCover claim or raise safety concerns with their boss.
In the case, the jury heard evidence from four workers who were threatened with termination when they brought safety concerns to their supervisor about overloading forklifts with steel coils. The same supervisor again threatened workers when they suggested involving WorkSafe to resolve the problem. This was despite the fact that concerns related to the same issue that had tragically caused a fatality at the company two years prior.
The employer was found to breach the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (“The OHS Act”) and was fined $475,000.
The sentencing was handed down after a jury found the employer guilty of six out of seven counts of engaging in discriminatory conduct.
Section 76 of the OHS Act prohibits discrimination of employees including:
The Act sets out that the employer may be found guilty of breaching section 76 and can be fined or even sentenced to prison if the employer’s discriminatory conduct was for the dominant reason of any of the following:
The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (“the WIRC Act’) sets out similar prohibitions and penalties for employers if they discriminate against injured workers in Victoria.
Section 578 of the WIRC Act prohibits the following discriminatory conduct:
The WIRC Act deems an employer to have breached the Act if the employer’s discriminatory conduct was for any of the following substantial reasons:
The WIRC Act has a range of remedies available if a court finds an employer guilty of an offence under section 578.
In addition to penalising the employer, the court may order that the worker is paid compensation or remunerated. The worker may also be reinstated or re-employed.
You may also be interested in reading our blog about your options if you have been unfairly terminated:
If you believe you have been discriminated against or have been terminated from employment, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
If you'd like to make an enquiry about a legal matter, talk about a career at RCT, or perhaps have a suggestion on how we can improve our service or even our website, we'd like to hear from you.
* Required Field