The Federal Magistrates’ Court has dismissed an employee’s adverse claim on the basis that the complaints he made to his employer did not constitute workplace rights, because they were not directly relevant to the terms of his employment.

The employee would continuously tell the managing director of the company that he lacked management and leadership skills.  The director issued the employee with a formal warning not to get involved in the management of the company.  Nevertheless, the employee organised a meeting with the director, at which he raised grievances regarding the management of the company.  He also verbally abused the director.  The employer dismissed the employee on the basis that he had “crossed the line”.  The employee filed an adverse action claim, alleging that he had been dismissed for making complaints in relation to his employment.

The Court held that if complaints or inquiries in relation to employment are to enliven workplace rights, they must be:

  • limited to matters “personal to the employee” which are sourced in “that person’s contractual arrangements and or the statutory framework” governing the employer/employee relationship; and
  • of the kind that would “invite the intervention of bodies having the capacity to enforce compliance”.

The Court held that the employee’s complaints “solely addressed matters which were the prerogative of management” and that he was dismissed only because the “clash of personalities” between the director and the employee could “no longer be accommodated”.