Qantas is facing a fine after the Federal Court upheld a judgement that the airline and a manager breached the Fair Work Act in its treatment of an engineer.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said it secured a “significant victory” in the Court on Friday, with the court finding that QANTAS management had unlawfully coerced an engineer into withdrawing a complaint over staff conditions.
In a strong win for the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, the Court found that QANTAS and an individual manager had tried to intimidate engineer Luke Murray out of complaining after he tried to claim more than 120 hours he said he worked while posted in Japan.
The Full Court of the Federal Court held that Qantas management victimised the engineer by cancelling all international postings for Brisbane-based Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (LAME), and in the process, removing possibility of the engineer accessing a further posting.
Principal of Maurice Blackburn’s Industrial Law section, Giri Sivaraman, said it was important that workers were free to exercise their legal rights to question working conditions, without fear of reprisal.
“This case highlights the important protections that employees have under the Fair Work Act against victimisation for making a complaint,” Sivaraman said.
“This confirms that victimisation can manifest in a broad range of circumstances.”
The matter will now return to the Federal Magistrate’s Court for a hearing on the penalties to be paid by QANTAS and the individual manager for contravening the Fair Work Act.
QANTAS has 28 days to file an appeal at the High Court.