When to engage a workplace lawyer

How can I get an employment/workplace lawyer?

You can call and arrange an appointment with Gordon Legal law firm and attend an initial consultation for a flat fee. In this initial consultation, we will review your documents and provide initial guidance and advice. You can then choose to engage the lawyer to work on your matter. As an employee, you may want to select a firm for legal advice that acts solely for unions and employees (such as Gordon Legal).

 

What is an employment/workplace lawyer?

An employment lawyer represents both employers and employees. The role of an employment lawyer can be broad – it is reflective of the complex world of work. Sometimes you might need advice about a new contract; other times, you might be in an employment dispute about conditions your employer is proposing, the bonuses that they might be proposing to pay (or not to pay) or performance-related issues, including termination of employment. 

At Gordon Legal, we act for employees in employment issues such as unfair dismissal, disputes at the workplace, discrimination, sexual harassment, disciplinary matters, unlawful termination/general protections applications, workplace bullying, underpayment and wage claims.

 

What type of lawyer do I need for work-related issues?

We recommend you get an employment lawyer with specialist knowledge in these areas to advise you in your employment dispute. This is sometimes known as a workplace lawyer. We will be able to identify the issues more efficiently and determine your rights.

 

What are the general protections available to employees?

Under the statute, employees cannot be terminated for discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, age etc, for taking sick leave, or for exercising workplace rights, such as making complaints and union activity. Unlike unfair dismissal, general protections do not require an eligibility claim for length or type of employment. Like unfair dismissal, it is dealt with by the Fair Work Commission and needs to be filed within 21 days of termination.

Your circumstances may be more appropriate for a general protections claim – consult your lawyer to find out which route is right for you.

 

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is where you have been terminated from your employment and you believe it was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. You need to meet eligibility criteria including type of employment and length of service to be eligible. You can check this with an employment lawyer or you can use some of the questionnaires on the Fair Work Commission website. As part of an unfair dismissal application, you can seek reinstatement to your employment or compensation for your dismissal. An unfair dismissal application is a two-step process – after you lodge your application, it will be listed for conciliation to try and resolve the matter with your former employer. If the matter is not resolved, the Fair Work Commission can determine the matter at a hearing. 

 

Who cannot claim unfair dismissal?

There are eligibility thresholds for unfair dismissal claims. Permanent full-time and permanent part-time employers, as well as casuals with regular shifts and expectations of ongoing work, are eligible if they have worked for small business for at least 12 months and a larger business for at least six months.

Those who cannot claim unfair dismissal include:

-   Employees on fixed-term contracts that have ended

-   Workers on apprenticeships and training schemes

-   Employees who earn more than the high-income threshold (updated annually, most recently $153,600 excluding superannuation)

-   Those covered by the modern award

-   Workers who have been made genuinely redundant

 

Does sexual harassment come under employment law?

Typically, sexual harassment is dealt with through the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Federal Human Rights Commission.

In Victoria, the case will start with the Equal Opportunity Commission and conciliation will be run. If the case is not resolved through the conciliation, it will go to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal at no cost.

At a federal level, it will go through the Human Rights Commission, then Federal Court to bring your claim – at this point, it is a cost jurisdiction, meaning that if you win, your costs will be paid for.

Unfair dismissal generally is not relevant for sexual harassment cases, but general protections could be, as it may fall under discrimination. Talk to your lawyer for advice.

 

When should you consult an employment lawyer?

You should consult an employment lawyer for legal advice on employment law matters, such as being called into a meeting that might affect your employment. You should engage an employment lawyer at the earliest stage possible so you can get guidance on your case and to take the appropriate steps to protect your position.

 

How do I sue for unfair treatment at work?

It depends on what that treatment is. If you have been terminated at work, you may have rights to apply for unfair dismissal at the Fair Work Commission. If you have been bullied at work, you may have rights to make an anti-bullying application to the Fair Work Commission. If you’re in a dispute with your employer in regards to rights at work or rights to wages and entitlements, you may be able to bring a dispute to the Fair Work Commission or make a claim to court. Suing is filing something in a body that can resolve the dispute.

 

How do employment lawyers get paid?

We charge a flat fee for the initial consultation. From there, we disclose our hourly rate – if you continue with us, you will be charged at this rate. We will provide you an estimate of total legal fees to run your matter.

 

What to do if this information applies to you

At Gordon Legal, we understand that workplace disputes and employment issues are a personal issue.

For personalised and individual advice, we offer consultations to discuss your matter.

Please call Gordon Legal on (03) 9603 3000 or our Geelong office on (03) 5225 1600 to speak with a member of our team.

Given the current environment, we are providing consultations over the phone or via video conferencing platforms.

You can call and arrange an appointment with Gordon Legal law firm and attend an initial consultation for a flat fee. In this initial consultation, we will review your documents and provide initial guidance and advice. You can then choose to engage the lawyer to work on your matter. As an employee, you may want to select a firm for legal advice that acts solely for unions and employees (such as Gordon Legal).

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