02:28 pm, Thursday 20 June, 2013
The Federal Court of Australia found that a man was threatened with dismissal from work for carrying out his work health and safety duties.
The worker, who also was elected as OHS representative, tagged two forklifts with reversing warning beepers which were barely audible. The tagging was done to alert other workers to stop using the faulty forklifts.
The company employing the worker, conducted investigations, suspended the worker and issued him a written warning.
The worker and the Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (AMWU) filed a case against the company and two of its managers claiming they had taken adverse actions against the worker under s 340 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
In explaining its finding, the Federal Court said the worker was just doing his “workplace right” when he tagged the machinery.
The Court said the company and its managers failed to discharge their onus of establishing that the employee’s exercise of workplace rights was not a substantial and operative factor in their decisions to instigate the investigation, suspend the employee from work and issue the Final Written Warning.
Penalties for the company and managers will be issued at a later date.