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Compensation for adverse action

A female photographer has been awarded compensation and penalties totaling almost $240,000 after she resigned due to adverse action by the proprietors of the business which was found by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to be motivated by her heavy pregnancy. The conduct of the owners of the business was found to include instructing the photographer not to deal with clients since it “was not a good look” because of her pregnancy, directing her to work “all hours necessary” for the business, instructing her to take long service leave before the birth of her child and attempting to introducing a new term of her employment with KPIs linked to sales targets, all because of her pregnancy.

Judge Whelan said that the conduct of the proprietors, some of which was “inexcusable”, warranted a general deterrence penalty.

The proceedings contended that the photographer’s resignation was a constructive dismissal, thus adverse action due to a prohibited reason namely pregnancy.
Sagona v Piccoli Investments (2014) FCCA 875 delivered on 30 April 2014

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