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The Federal Circuit Court has recently found a sole director responsible for the underpayment of a long-term employee in Scotto v Scala Bros Pty Ltd & Anor [2014] FCCA 2374.

The employee worked for the delicatessen/ café for nearly 30 years and his claims included the failure of the employer to pay the minimum wage, allowances and overtime; failure to provide payslips and failure to make superannuation contributions throughout this time period.

The employee also alleged that his former employer did not pay out his accrued entitlements when his employment ended in 2010. The total amount claimed was just over $1.5 million plus civil penalties for non-compliance with the legal requirements. The case was brought against both Scala Bros as the employer and against the sole director personally in her capacity as director and manager of the business.

Wading through a messy tangle of facts and complicated family issues, Judge Cameron accepted the validity of a number of the claims although noted that some of the older claims could no

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A recent NSW Supreme Court case[1] considered the summary dismissal of a senior ANZ Bank employee. The employee was terminated for serious misconduct and then sought to sue ANZ for breach of his contract claiming over $9 million in damages.

The alleged misconduct involved a significant leak of information to a Financial Review journalist. The leak involved an internal ANZ email which was illegitimately altered and forwarded on anonymously to a journalist. The altered version claimed that there would be no more lending and that ANZ was ‘closed for business’. The journalist in turn contacted ANZ who conducted an investigation. The investigation concluded that Bartlett was responsible and he was subsequently terminated.

The court decision largely turned on the words of the executive’s employment contract. The contract provided that the executive could be summarily terminated if ‘in the opinion of ANZ’ he engaged in serious misconduct. The executive argued that ANZ needed to prove he was actually guilty of the alleged conduct or that there should be an implied

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With a busy month ahead for many businesses holding work social functions and Christmas parties it is a good time to consider your workplace policies and practices and how they apply to social functions and behaviour that is outside the usual office or work space.  
 
Behaviour outside of the workplace
 
We recently wrote about the Oracle case (http://www.blandslaw.com.au/blog/174-new-standard-set-for-workplace-harassment-compensation.htmll), a sexual harassment case which involved harassment (at times amounting to criminal conduct) that occurred both inside and outside the office.
Whether or not something is considered ‘at work’ will depend on the facts.
 
This case highlighted that conduct which occurred outside of the office was still, in these particular circumstances, the responsibility of the employer.  To imitigate or avoid liability, employers need to be able to show they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the discriminatory or harmful conduct occurring in the first place.    
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We wrote in 2013 about a Federal Court case which by majority found an implied term of mutual trust and confidence in an employment contract. The case involved the redundancy of a long-term employee of the Commonwealth Bank. The employee claimed that the employer breached the implied term of mutual trust and confidence by not engaging properly in the redeployment process. The Federal Court held in favour of the employee and awarded damages of $317,000.
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Social media is an emerging and dynamic phenomenon, and consequently social media law is continually being revised. At its intersection with employment law, there are a number of undecided issues including those around non-solicitation, and the use of social media accounts and contacts post-termination. What happens if an employee uses their LinkedIn account to seek business, and sends an ‘invitation’ to all their contacts including their former employer’s clients?

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A recent sexual harassment case,  Richardson v Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd , has generated commentary and surprise about the significant increase to the damages awarded to the complainant on appeal to the full federal court. Ms Richardson, who was the victim of repeated and cruel sexual harassment by a colleague when they were both employees with Oracle, successfully had the original award for damages of $18,000 set aside and replaced with an order of $130,000 for damages.

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Redundancies can be a difficult issue for all involved.
Understanding how to conduct a redundancy properly, fairly and in compliance with the Fair Work Act, will help to avoid a sensitive situation becoming a painful problem further down the track. If you do not follow the correct procedures when making a redundancy, you may find yourself dealing with a claim of unfair dismissal. 
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Workplace investigations are becoming more commonplace, yet there is still a lack of understanding about the mechanics of investigations, and when they are needed. Below we set out briefly some of the reasons why you would consider an investigation, the key steps in the investigation process, and the pros and cons of different types of investigations.  

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Modern Awards are an important part of the Australian employment law landscape. Modern Awards were introduced in 2010 and there are currently 122 Modern Awards covering a wide range of industries and occupations. An Award basically sets out minimum standards including base rates of pay, other entitlements and conditions of work.

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Each Australian State and Territory has its own anti-discrimination legislation. The types of prohibited discrimination vary but include such grounds as sex, race, family responsibilities and disability. There are also exceptions or exemptions to allow certain activities which would otherwise be discriminatory.

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The Federal Circuit Court has imposed a record $238,920 penalty on a company providing an airport shuttle service from Newcastle to Sydney airport, for underpaying its drivers.

Interestingly, the Fair Work investigation arose not from an employee complaint, but as part of a national compliance campaign focused on sham contracting. The penalty imposed was made up partly of breaches relating to misrepresentation of employees as contractors, and partly for failing to meet award requirements.
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