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Employment Law – Background:

In Yu Duo (Lynda) Lin v Woolworths Limited, the Fair Work Commission found that a mix of three factors including a “significant” mental illness, justified extending the time for an unfair dismissal application lodged 164 days late for a Woolworths worker.

Employment Law – Facts:

In essence:

  • The worker was employed at Woolworths Prahran store’s delicatessen in May 2014. However, her weekly hours were dropped from 20 or 30 hours to 10 after a new deli-manager started in October 2015.
  • In December 2015, Police removed her from the Prahran store and she was detained after an altercation with the manager.
  • In response to this Woolworths moved her to various stores. However, in October 2016 she was suspended after police were called after an altercation with another employee.
  • Following an investigation, Woolworths met with the employee in December 2016 where they gave her option of resigning or face dismissal.
  • The employee argued that her employment had caused the mental illness, however Woolworths believed it was her “mental state which caused her difficulties at work”
  • Her illness culminated in a 10-day psychiatric admission in hospital in April 2017
  • In June 2017, the Fair Work Commission dismissed an anti-bullying complaint she made against the manager because her job ended in December 2016

Employment Law – Fair Work Commission Decision:

The Fair Work Commission:

  • extended the deadline for the unfair dismissal claim beyond the usual 21 day deadline after her employment ended in December 2016
  • stated usually “the longer the delay in making an unfair dismissal application the more difficult it will generally be to get over the high hurdle of exceptional circumstances”
  • held however in this case, that a combination of factors amounted to exceptional circumstances including: the employee’s “significant” mental illness, her initial lack of knowledge about her rights and her “misapprehension” that the Fair Work Commission would consider the circumstances of her resignation when she lodged a workplace bullying complaint
  • found that her understanding of her rights under the Fair Work Act was “potentially made more limited” by her and her father’s “relatively basic English skills”
  • returned the case to general unfair dismissal list for consideration

The decision is available for you to read through the hyperlink:

Yu Duo (Lynda) Lin v Woolworths Limited [2017] FWC 4019 (2 August 2017)

Employment Law – Tips for Employers:

Our Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions employment law team recommends employers:

  • review this Fair Work Commission decision
  • ensure compliance with all employment laws including Fair Work Commission decisions, Awards and enterprise agreements
  • seek advice from an employment lawyer where a claim is lodged for unfair dismissal by a former employee
  • fairly, consistently and lawfully respond to breaches of employment laws including Awards and enterprise agreements
  • raise any employment law questions with an employment lawyer

Employment Law – 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.