What Is Adverse Action?

Polarising arguments in the workplace are difficult. Whether it’s about the date of Australia Day, legality of horse racing on Melbourne Cup or even just about the latest episode of Married at First Sight, disagreements and conflicting views are hard and can result in workplace tension. However, if this tension results in discriminatory behaviour or even termination, it is time to consider whether adverse action has taken place.

Angela Williamson

The infamous Angela Williamson case in mid-2018 raised the question of whether adverse action had taken place in her termination. Cricket Australia fired Williamson for tweeting her perspective on the Tasmanian Government’s policy on abortion. Williamson had posted the tweets in her personal capacity and outside of work hours. Therefore, when Williamson was terminated due to her “offending” tweets it questioned whether employees can be fired due to their political opinion.

When does Adverse Action occur?

It often occurs between employers and employees. However, there are other workplace situations where this may take place such as between potential employers and potential employees. The Fair Work Act s 342 outlines the many different varieties there are within the workplace. Below are a couple of situations in which it can manifest.

Employee against an employer

Adverse action has taken place if the employee refuses to work while in the employ of their employer. Furthermore, if they intend to take industrial action such as a strike against their employer. These situations would be considered as adverse action having occurred against an employer by the employee.

Employer against an employee

Adverse action has taken place if the employer threatens, organises or takes measures against the employee. This can be in the form of dismissing, injuring and or altering the position of the employee to their detriment. Furthermore, if they discriminate against the employee and others in the employer’s employ.

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What can you do?

Angela Williamson and her lawyers claimed her dismissal was unfair and breached the Fair Work Act. Eventually, Williamson and Cricket Australia managed to come to an out-of-court resolution. Therefore, the next time you have a disagreement or contentious issue at work ensure it does not affect your employment or it may be considered adverse action. If you think you have been subject to adverse action, refer to the Fair Work Commission adverse action page for further information. If you need legal advice, you can also speak to an Employment Lawyer who can provide you with assistance. Furthermore, you can access legal employment documents for template agreements, letters and more.

Don’t know where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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