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An infamous brothel that was once listed on the ASX (and voted Australia’s best brothel 18 times) and its operator have lost a case against a dismissed employee and have been ordered to pay more than $170,000 in penalties and compensation.

In essence:

  • the employee was a receptionist carrying out administrative duties on a permanent part-time arrangement
  • the employer proposed a change in her workplace arrangements to casual employment
  • the employee refused to accept the proposed changes
  • the receptionist’s employment was terminated

The court:

  • rebuked the employer for its conduct, saying “the actions of the employer were at best ‘ham fisted’ and at worst ‘high handed’, showing no regard for the needs of the employee
  • commented that due to the need to support a child, the receptionist relied on the certainty of a permanent employment arrangement and although her hourly rate was above the award rate, she was ‘nonetheless a low income earner’
  • reproached the company for its choice of staff appointments and found ‘no evidence of contrition or corrective action [by Daily Planet and its operator]’ and included the need for deterrence in the determination of the payout
  • ordered $62,700 in penalties against the employer and $12,540 in penalties against its operator
  • held the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 applied to the receptionist as she ‘was employed to carry out administrative duties and did not engage in sex work’
  • assessed damages at $92,411.37
  • assessed outstanding superannuation at $5,789.89
  • ordered the penalties be paid to the employee instead of into consolidated revenue

Tips for Employers

Our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team recommends employers:

  • review this court decision
  • seek the assistance of an employment lawyer to understand the impacts of this court decision
  • ensure compliance with all employment laws including Fair Work Commission decisions, court decisions, Awards and enterprise agreements
  • understand what employment laws apply at your workplace including Awards and enterprise agreements
  • penalties can apply for breaches of employment laws including Awards and enterprise agreements (which an employment lawyer can advise on)
  • damages can apply for breaches of employment laws including Awards and enterprise agreements (which an employment lawyer can advise on)

More Information
Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team on 9635-7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers.