Employer fined for sacking worker with cancer to avoid paying sick leave
The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that the Federal Court has been highly critical of a business which sacked a long-term employee to prevent him from taking sick leave after he was diagnosed with cancer.
The employee was owed about 500 hours' sick leave when he told his employer he had cancer.
In response, the man's employer placed continuous pressure on him to resign for over a month.
After having no success, the employer told the man he did not believe there was anything wrong with him and subsequently dismissed him.
The employee was not paid sick leave, wages in lieu of notice or annual leave entitlements which were valued at about $16,000.
At one stage, after a concerted campaign to coerce the employee to resign, the employer threatened to physically throw the man - who had worked at the business for more than nine years - off the premises.
Following legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman, Justice John Gilmour has penalised the business and its operators a total of $41,500 and severely criticised their behavior.
Perth businessman Pasquale Minniti has been fined $6500 and the private company he jointly runs with his wife, AJR Nominees Pty Ltd, has been penalised a further $35,000.
Mr Minniti and AJR Nominees - operators of panel beating and spray painting business Hi-Lite Automotive on Beechboro Road, Bayswater, have until May 25 to pay the fines.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the employer's conduct in this matter was appalling and the Court has signalled a warning that similar behavior from others will likewise not be tolerated.