James* had been employed in his job for three years when he suffered a non-work-related injury which required surgery. His employer hired another person to fill in for James while he was off work, and claimed that there were no suitable duties available while James was undergoing rehabilitation. A short time before James was cleared to return to work in his designated role the employer dismissed him on the basis of his alleged inability to return to work.
James sought the assistance of the Cairns Community Legal Centre Inc (the Centre) in this matter. The Centre advised him on the General Protections Application, drafted the Application and provided legal representation at the conciliation conference scheduled by the Fair Work Commission, at which the employer was represented.
The matter was successfully resolved at conciliation and James received a settlement payment of $15,000.
Without the assistance of and representation by the Centre, James would have struggled with the Application and the Fair Work Commission process. He would be unlikely to have achieved a satisfactory outcome, particularly given the unequal bargaining power at conciliation since James could not afford private legal representation.
*This fictional name has been given to protect the client’s identity.