The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has awarded a train driver $100,000 after he was sacked while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after a crash.

The employee was involved in a train crash, which led to him suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Following the crash, the employee was required to undertake a competency-based assessment. Just before undertaking the assessment, the employee became nervous and sick and was unable to undertake the assessment. The employee was sacked for failing the assessment.

The Court felt that this was a case where there was “a need to send a clear message to this employer and others, that employees should only have their employment terminated for proper and lawful reasons”. The judge awarded the train driver $70,000 for six months lost wages and $25,000 for the “distress, hurt and humiliation that resulted from his dismissal”. The employer was also ordered to pay a $5,000 penalty for beaching the adverse action laws. The penalty was on the higher-end of the scale for breaches of the adverse action laws (the maximum penalty is $6,600) because the conduct was “clearly deliberate”, not merely a “spur of the moment decision”, and the employer had shown no remorse and maintained that it was entitled to terminate the employee.

A link to the case can be found here: Flavel v Railpro Services Pty Ltd (No.2) [2013] FCCA 1449; Flavel v Railpro Services Pty Ltd [2013] FCCA 1189