A Full Federal Court has upheld a decision which found that an employer took adverse action against an employee by denying him the opportunity to apply for international postings.

An employer refused an employee’s request for RDOs and higher shift allowances for work performed on an overseas posting and then suspended overseas postings indefinitely. The Federal Magistrates’ Court found that the suspension constituted adverse action and was implemented because of the employee’s complaint. The employer appealed and submitted that the suspension did not affect the employee, as it was lifted after a month and was imposed at a time when the employee was not due to be posted overseas.

The Full Court found that the employer could not attempt to remove the “prejudicial effect” of the suspension by pointing to its subsequent lifting, as the employee’s position was affected at the time when it was imposed. The Court held that while the suspension was “unlimited” in time, it was “real and substantial”, and caused “an adverse affection of and deterioration in” the advantage enjoyed by the employee (namely the potential for overseas postings) before it was removed.

Qantas Airways Limited v Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association [2012] FCAFC 63