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Sydney lawyer fired after salary cut in half

A lawyer claimed she was fired the day after she called in sick for mental health distress by a director who regularly threatened to terminate her employment and halved her salary without sufficient notice.

user iconNaomi Neilson 08 February 2024 Big Law
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A former employee of Yates Beaggi Lawyers (YBL), Tamara Rabadi, told the Fair Work Commissions she was allegedly fired abruptly in March 2023 by solicitor director Farshad Amirbeaggi the day after she requested sick leave for “stress and anxiety”.

The decision came seven weeks after Mr Amirbeaggi allegedly emailed Ms Rabadi “notice of termination of your employment” following an exchange of emails about billable hours.

On the morning of 22 March, Mr Amirbeaggi said he was “prepared to overlook” the original notices of termination, but if Ms Rabadi was unable to work, “then I will stand by the earlier notices”.


After the two swapped correspondence, Mr Amirbeaggi allegedly told Ms Rabadi she was “summarily” terminated “effective today”.

Ms Rabadi applied to the Fair Work Commission, but YBL, represented by Mr Amirbeaggi, claimed Ms Rabadi was not an employee and could, therefore, not be terminated.

Following an examination of the correspondence between Ms Rabadi and Mr Amirbeaggi, the commission found she was an employee.

A big part of the dispute centred on Ms Rabadi’s $400,000 salary, which the commission was told increased from $250,000.

YBL placed “considerable emphasis” on this increase as demonstrating Ms Rabadi had ceased to be an employee. Its argument was Ms Rabadi had taken on a proprietorship in 2021.

In March 2022, Mr Amirbeaggi allegedly informed both Ms Rabadi and Brooke Maniscalco their equity would increase from 10 to 20 per cent. After a request to further clarify, Mr Amirbeaggi allegedly said their $400,000 salary was “guaranteed” in addition to any bonuses.

A year later, Ms Rabadi discovered from her bank statement her wages had been reduced by 55 per cent.

The following day, Ms Rabadi told Mr Amirbeaggi she would need to find other work outside the firm if she was to pay her new mortgage, and Mr Amirbeaggi allegedly said he would not object to this.

However, Mr Amirbeaggi told the commission Ms Rabadi was not an employee because she had “abandoned” the partnership by establishing and trading in her own legal business.

He added if Ms Rabadi is found not to have been a partner at the firm, he was intending to pursue a claim against her for, “at the very least”, overpayment of her remuneration of $150,000, being the difference between the increase from $250,000 to $400,000.

The commission found the decision to align Ms Rabadi’s income with the profit of the business “had no relevance to the issue of whether Ms Rabadi was an employee”.

Further, emails suggesting Ms Rabadi was responsible for certain tasks usually undertaken by experienced employed lawyers were “consistent with the employment relationship”.

The commission also found Ms Rabadi accepted an offer to apply for a 10 per cent interest in YBL and had signed the relevant paperwork.

Despite this, there is no evidence the paperwork was executed and the units were issued. This is also despite email correspondence from Mr Amirbeaggi about paying Ms Rabadi her dividends.

The matter will return to the Fair Work Commission.

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