A Sydney court has fined Qantas for breaching workplace laws by bullying an engineer into withdrawing a claim for entitlements.
In its ruling, the Federal Magistrates Court said Qantas and Qantas manager Peter Cawthorne had unlawfully pressured engineer Luke Murray into dropping a claim for entitlements following a 2010 posting in Japan.
Mr Murray claimed he was owed about $10,000 for excess hours and more onerous shift work during the posting, but Qantas responded to his claim by suspending all overseas postings for engineers until Mr Murray withdrew his claim.
The court ruled that Qantas broke the law by subject Mr Murray to adverse action by suspending overseas postings. It also ruled that Mr Cawthorne violated the Fair Work Act by attempting to coerce Mr Murray into not exercising his workplace rights. It was the first time a court has made such a finding under the Act.
“The reaction to Mr Murray’s attempt to secure himself his entitlements was strong, and it should be made clear to other corporations and individuals that it was wrong and should not occur elsewhere,” Federal Magistrate Kenneth Raphael said.
Under the ruling, Qantas was fined $13,200 and Mr Cawthorne $2,200. Qantas, which had appealed the case to the full bench of the Federal Court in 2011, said it would accept the ruling.