A human story about workplace bullying and unfair dismissal

For an example of the work CLCs do in the area of employment law, here is a story from Kingsford CLC:

Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC) has developed a strong relationship with Asian Women at Work (AWAW), an organisation which aims to empower Asian women workers. AWAW recently referred a 54 year old Chinese, Cantonese speaking woman to KLC for advice about unfair dismissal.

Our client was regularly bullied by a male colleague while employed and on one occasion reacted to his bullying and threw tea at him.

Two days after this incident our client was called into a meeting with her superiors where she was dismissed. Another Cantonese speaking employee was asked to attend the meeting to translate for our client. Our client was not asked for her side of the story and the word “dismissal” was lost in translation. Our client did not realise that she was being dismissed until a team leader escorted her out of the building.

We represented our client in an unfair dismissal application at the Fair Work Commission. Our client wanted to be reinstated. We successfully negotiated for our client to be reinstated before the matter went to arbitration, on the condition that she receive a written warning about her behaviour.

Initially, our client was reluctant to accept the warning as she wanted her employer to acknowledge that her actions were provoked by her colleague. We negotiated with her employer to re-word the warning to reflect the circumstances of her actions. Our client has since resumed her job.