5th November 2015
In July 2015, a Melbourne construction company was ordered to compensate a female employee who was unfairly dismissed after allegedly suffering abuse from her partner, who also worked in the same office.
Earlier in the year there was an incident of domestic violence between the couple, which led the police to obtain a restraining order on the victim’s behalf. The order excluded her partner from the home they shared, but was additionally amended by a magistrate to allow both to continue working in the same office. However, the amendment prevented the partner from approaching the woman within three metres in the workplace.
Instead of attempting to implement the new arrangement, the employer decided to fire the woman on the grounds that he did not have the capacity to protect her and that both parties could not work in the same department. The woman was informed that her partner would not be dismissed. The case was taken to court and, in a landmark ruling for the Fair Work Commission, was found to be a ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ dismissal (ABC News 2015).
This ruling is very significant in the broader context of increased awareness about circumstances of domestic violence and discrimination in the workplace.
For more information, check My Rights Under Australian Law (No.8)