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Unfair dismissal: How much will I receive?

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Sacked employee checking to see what to do next. Explore your options and rights. How much will I receive? has to be a consideration.

How much can I get? I want the maximun

The question of how you will receive from an unfair dismissal claim is one many employees ask. There are two ways that you can receive an payout. One is if you and your employer agree to a settlement made during conciliation. Another is if your claim proceeds to a formal hearing, and the Fair Work Commission orders your employer to provide you with an unfair dismissal payout.

In this article, we look at three Fair Work Commission cases that provide an example of how much you can potentially receive with a claim. (Be aware of the strict 21 days to lodge your unfair dismissal or gneeral protections claim with the FWC)

Worker wins $46K for unfair dismissal

You may be wondering about how much you can receive from an unfair dismissal claim. The case Sathananthan v BT Financial Group Limited [2019] provides an example of an payout at the higher end of the scale. The case involved Ravi Sathananthan, who was employed as a business development manager at BT Financial Group Limited.

Mr Sathananthan had resigned from his position on 12 March 2019, with his last working day being 12 April 2019. However, his resignation was far from voluntary. Mr Sathananthan alleged that his unfavourable treatment at BT Financial Group forced him to resign, leading to an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission.

Figureine-holding-you're-fired-sign.-It's-never-easy-when-your-"let go".
It’s never easy when your “let go”.

Worker outlines grievances

One of Mr Sathananthan’s main grievances was his excessive workload. In his unfair dismissal claim, he argued that BT Financial Group had failed to address this adequately. Mr Sathananthan told the Fair Work Commission that he consistently worked more than 70 hours per week, which took a significant toll on his health. He was forced to work on weekends, public holidays and even while taking his own annual leave.

The Fair Work Commission accepted his claim of being overworked and that he had repeatedly raised concerns about this issue with his superiors. It was found that while BT Financial Group’s HR leader had taken some steps to arrange support for Mr Sathananthan. However, no substantial changes to his role or responsibilities were made to lessen his workload.

Fair Work Commission finds worker was forced to resign

A critical moment in this case was when the Fair Work Commission found that Mr Sathananthan had been forced to resign. It was found that it was “objectively unreasonable” for him to be “regularly working 70 hours a week.” The Fair Work Commission stated that his “excessive working hours” coupled with the “absence of any real recognition of this issue or steps taken by BT” were critical factors leading to the decision.

Employee-appearing-stressed.
It’s stressful times. Many employees consider going into business for themselves. Somehow pick yourself up and move forward.

Allegations of misconduct investigated

This unfair dismissal case also considered allegations of misconduct. These were made by Mr Sathananthan and a female colleague with whom he had a consensual relationship between December 2017 and April 2018. After the relationship ended, the working relationship between the two soured, leading to mutual allegations. The female colleague’s allegations against Mr Sathananthan were formally investigated by BT Financial Group’s HR department. Most of these allegations were found to be unsubstantiated, resulting in no formal disciplinary action against Mr Sathananthan.

However, the Fair Work Commission found that BT Financial Group’s handling of Mr Sathananthan’s allegations was contentious. The company argued that his allegations raised performance issues rather than misconduct, a claim that the Fair Work Commission deemed “questionable.” BT Financial Group had also decided that some of Mr Sathananthan’s allegations were personal matters beyond the scope of the female colleague’s employment.

The Fair Work Commission found that the company had not properly considered the connection between the alleged conduct and the workplace. And that it had not effectively communicated its stance on these issues to Mr Sathananthan.

Worker receives massive unfair dismissal payout

Ultimately, the Fair Work Commission found that BT Financial Group had unfairly dismissed Mr Sathananthan. It stated that the combination of excessive working hours and the company’s inadequate response to Mr Sathananthan’s concerns left him with no viable option but to resign. He was awarded compensation of approximately $45,990 for the lost income and the emotional distress he experienced during his employment at BT Financial Group.

Employee-holding-a-sign-advertising-his-need-for-a-job.-How-much-will-I-receive?
Employee holding a sign advertising his need for a job. You have to keep trying. Apply outside your skill sets and experiance. We hear of many many instances of people getting great jobs in these circumstances.

Worker dismissed for borrowing ladder to help locked-out daughter

If you are wondering how much you will receive from an unfair dismissal claim, the case Gary Davidson v Sydney Tools [2023] provides an example. The case involved tradesperson Gary Davidson, an employee of Sydney Tools, who was awarded nearly $20,000 by the Fair Work Commission. The key event that led to his dismissal took place on Sunday 19 March 2023. On that day, Mr Davidson received a call from his daughter saying that she was locked out of her apartment.

His daughter lived on a first-floor apartment, so Mr Davidson decided to use a ladder to gain access through a door that was open. However, he soon realised that the latter he had was not tall enough, so he decided to borrow one from his work. Given that his manager was not there due to illness, Mr Davidson informed a junior colleague that he would return the ladder the following morning.

Tradie is dismissed

Unknown to Mr Davidson, a manager of Sydney Tools had sent an email to a senior director of the company saying that he had stolen the ladder. In the email, the manager wrote “No purchase, not a transfer. He came in on his day off and took a brand new ladder out of stock without paying for it. That’s theft as far as I’m concerned.”

But Mr Davidson stayed true to his promise that he was simply borrowing the ladder. He arrived back at the store at 6.50am the next day to return it. However, he was soon summarily dismissed by Sydney Tools. The company cited theft as the reason. Also, that his behaviour had been “inconsistent with the continuation of [his] contract of employment.” Feeling he had been unfairly treated, Mr Davidson subsequently made an complaint with the Fair Work Commission.

Looking-for-unemployment-benefits. How-much-will-I-receive?
Talk to Services Australia and your superannuation fund as to what your entitled to if your out of work. Many superannuation funds have salary continuous schemes attached to them if you lose your job.

Fair Work Commission hears claim

Sydney Tools performed an unexpected about-face prior to Mr Davidson’s hearing. The company told the Fair Work Commission that it no longer considered theft to be the reason why it had dismissed him. Rather, it argued that the ladder incident was the proverbial “final straw.” This was because Mr Davidson had been provided with multiple prior warnings concerning his work performance and conduct.

However, this change in stance did not go down well with the Fair Work Commission. It stated that Sydney Tools should never have accused Mr Davidson of theft. It noted the potential effect this allegation could have had on his reputation and future job prospects. “Theft is a very serious allegation,” said the Fair Work Commission. “It should not be made lightly or without a proper investigation.” Sydney Tools was criticised for not conducting a comprehensive investigation prior to dismissing Mr Davidson.

Dismissal ruled unfair

The Fair Work Commission accepted that Mr Davidson had violated company policies by borrowing the ladder without the approval of senior staff. However, it found that there was no evidence of dishonesty in his actions. His dismissal was therefore demmed to be a disproportionate response to the situation.

It was also found that Mr Davidson was denied procedural fairness leading up to his dismissal. The Fair Work Commission stated that a fair investigation would have allowed him a reasonable opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding his ladder borrowing. In particular, the fact that he had done so due to an emergency with his daughter.

Finding that Mr Davidson had been unfairly dismissed, the Fair Work Commission considered a remedy. It ordered Sydney Tools to pay him the equivalent of four months’ worth of wages. However, 10 per cent was deducted from this amount due to his “misconduct.” The final unfair dismissal payout that Mr Davidson received was $19,400.

Boss-holding-up-a-sheet-of-paper-with -lettering-"You-are-fired!"
You are fired and the employer pointing the way out still happens. You want compensation if this happens to you.

Young workers dismissed by drug-addled boss win over $65K

If you want an idea of how much you will receive with an unfair dismissal claim, the case Milena Molina and Raymond Zhai v Brett Galloway [2021] provides an example of a huge payout. The case involved two young workers who were employed at the law firm of founding partner Brett Galloway. Mr Galloway had a number of well-known clients, including disgraced former Auburn council member Salim Mahajer. As well as Sydney underworld brothers Fadi, Michael and Sam Ibrahim.

Employer had an drug problem

Mr Galloway also had a checkered history with the law and drugs. In 2018, he was charged with drug-driving after he tested positive for ice. Police had spotted him exiting a “known drug premises” before going through a stop sign. The charges, however, were later dismissed. This was because Mr Galloway successfully argued that he could have ingested the traces of ice while drinking tea or smoking a cigarette.

“You’re an addict”: Worker details confrontation with boss

The two employees who made unfair dismissal claims were Melina Molina, who was employed as a casual bookkeeper and receptionist, starting in 2011. And Raymond Zhai, who was employed as a solicitor. When the two employee’s unfair dismissal cases eventually made it to federal court, Ms Molina provided insight into Mr Galloway’s drug problem. She told the court about a conversation she had with him in July 2019.

“I can’t believe you are using drugs again,” Ms Molina said. “You need help once and for all, Brett – you’re an addict. I have seen your bank records, and personal expenses – I do the books, remember. Let’s go outside to talk, we need to hash this out.”

“You’re fired, get out”

In March 2020, both Ms Molina and Mr Zhai were dismissed by Mr Galloway with a letter in which he used words to the effect of “you’re fired, get out.” In their letters, Mr Galloway said that both employees were dismissed for serious insubordination, attempted intimidation and sabotage. Also, unauthorised agreements, theft and fraud. In their unfair dismissal claims, both employees told the Fair Work Commission that these accusations simply were not true.

Employee-tipped-out-of-the-chair
Employee tipped out of the chair. Many employees are in shock and need time to recover. There is a strict 21 days to lodge your claim

Fair Work awards unfair dismissal payout

At their FWC hearings, the Fair Work Commission found that both Ms Molina and Mr Zhai had been unfairly dismissed. “I am satisfied and find that…the conduct allegedly engaged in by [Ms Molina] did not occur and accordingly there was no valid reason for her dismissal,” the Fair Work Commission stated.

Mr Galloway was ordered to provide Mr Zhai with an unfair dismissal payout of $24,086.41. And Ms Molina received an unfair dismissal payout of $49,013.74. However, Mr Galloway has not paid these unfair dismissal payouts in full. He still owes Ms Molina over $40,000 and Mr Zhai $12,000.

Case was delayed by the employer

This unfair dismissal case dragged on over three years, eventually making it to the Federal Circuit Court. It had been constantly delayed by what the court described as Mr Galloway’s “chronic procedural delinquency.” And for his filing documents late in a “forensically dishevelled state.” On two occasions when he requested adjournments, unrelated medical incidents suddenly arose, preventing the hearing from proceeding.

One of these medical incidents was caused by Mr Galloway’s dog, who he claimed jumped up and hit his face. He said that this caused him to fall backwards, hit his head and lose consciousness.

Employer had some very shady practices

During the unfair dismissal court proceedings, Mr Galloway’s practice manage testified. She claimed that he often received cash payments from clients and that it was common for these transactions to take place at his home. Ms Molina said that at one point, Mr Galloway had $80,000 in cash stored in a safe at one of the law firm’s offices. She also said that in the months prior to her dismissal, Mr Galloway was not paying staff on time.

The court also learned that Mr Galloway had a significant debt with the Australian Taxation Office, reaching approximately $500,000 by January 2020.

Employee-dismissed-while-working-from-home.
Employee dismissed while working from home. She refused to go back to the office to work. Be careful. You can lodge a flexible work application at the FWC

How much will I receive? Talk to us.

If you would like to have a complimentary and confidential discussion with a member of our team, call us today. We can explain how much you will receive from a claim. And we can help you understand the process of taking your claim to the Fair Work Commission.

A Whole New Approach helps Australian workers in every state and territory to make unfair dismissal claims. We are not lawyers but the nations leading workplace advisors and commentators. With our guidance, we simplify the process for you and provide the expert advice needed to navigate Fair Work Commission requirements. We have been doing this for over 30 years, having helped over 16,000 employees make an unfair dismissal claim. So we know the best way to go about it. But remember, you only have 21 days from the date of your termination to lodge your claim.

So contact us today at 1800 333 666 for a confidential and complimentary consultation.

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