Retailer fined $60,000 for bullying employee

An optometry chain, formerly trading as Merringtons, has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $67,000 for “thuggish retaliatory disciplinary action” against a junior employee.

The employee, Joanne Eghnatios, reportedly complained to Wageline about underpayment of wages.

Her employer, Australian Ophthalmic Supplies, responded by transferring her from the Melbourne store to another that would have taken her “several hours of commuting each day to and from work”.

When she refused to work there she was suspended. She then resigned.

Her team leader, George Omar, told the manager of the out-of-Melbourne store it was his job to “make Joanne so uncomfortable when she came to work here that she would leave”.

Justice Marshall described the conduct as “flagrant and defiant” breaches of the Workplace Relations Act “designed to humiliate and pressure an employee for doing no more than protecting her rights at work”.

He awarded Eghnatios nearly $7000 in damages and fined the company $60,000.


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