A single mum who was fired for being four minutes late to work has won her unfair dismissal case.
The woman regularly arrived late to work at a poultry factory because she needed to drop her child off at before-school care.
However, employment law experts say made the wrong claim.
Single mum fired for being 4 minutes late
Amer Deng worked at the Inghams Enterprises factory in Adelaide.
She regularly arrived late because she needed to drop her child off at before-school care.
During her unfair dismissal hearing in the Fair Work Commission, she said that a manager agreed for her to start late for a period of five months, until she could organise alternative childcare.
However, Inghams denied this.
The Commission heard Deng always made up the time by working back at the end of her shift.
Despite this, the company gave her a written warning about her tardiness, and five months later, it summarily dismissed her.
Senior deputy president Matthew O’Callaghan described Inghams’ response as “disproportionate”.
“Ms Deng’s behaviour did not strike at the basis of the continuing employment relationship and did not provide Inghams with grounds on which to summarily dismiss her.”
Mr O’Callaghan added that Inghams had not established a “satisfactory pattern of lateness, with consequent adverse effects so as to represent a valid reason for her dismissal.”
Mr O’Callaghan ordered Inghams to give Deng her job back, in addition to paying her five months wages in compensation.
General protections claim
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, says Deng should have made a different claim.
“If we represented Ms Deng, we would have filed a claim for a contravention of a general protections provision involving dismissal,” he said.
“The law says an employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the grounds of their family responsibilities.
Mr Heffernan said general protections claims can result in higher pay outs than unfair dismissal claims.
“A general protections dispute involving dismissal can result in additional compensation for shock and distress and can attract penalties against the employer,” he said.
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