The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has held that an employee exercised a workplace right when she complained to her employer in relation to her salary package and allowance payments.
The employee had complained to her employer on a number of occasions that she had not received her correct salary, car or mobile phone allowance. The employee emailed the director and general manager informing them that she was leaving work as she was unwell. The employer then dismissed the employee as a result of her “failure to wear the company uniform and … lack of sales”. After she was dismissed, the employee emailed the employer stating that she had obtained a medical certificate to cover her absence.
The employee filed a general protections (adverse action) claim alleging that she had been dismissed because she had made a complaint and because she was temporarily absent form work due to an illness.
The Court held that a complaint or inquiry “can be made to a body without capacity to seek compliance, and … can be mentioned to the employer, which then constitutes the exercise of a workplace right”. The employee had a workplace right “in relation to her entitlement to, and her complaints or inquiries about, her salary package and payments”. The Court dismissed the employer’s submission that the “temporary absence” claim couldn’t apply, because at the time the medical certificate was submitted, the employee was a former employee. The Court also held that the general manager and director should not be removed as parties to the application.