The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched its first age discrimination prosecution but a legal expert has described the move as a waste of taxpayer dollars because of the duplication of existing legal remedies.
The prosecution is based on discrimination which culminated in a Thai restaurant employee having his employment terminated when he turned 65.
The joint directors and equal shareholders of Theravanish Investments, Nopporn Theravanish and Michael Theravanish, will face the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane to hear the charges.
They operate three restaurants – Chiangmai Thai at Broadbeach, Chiangmai Thai Sierra Grand at Broadbeach and Chiangmai Thai Surfers Paradise – and previously operated Chiangmai Thai at Nobby Beach as well as another Thai restaurant at Robina.
The Ombudsman alleges that an employee who started working for Theravanish in 1996 asked Nopporn Theravanish for long service leave. She then asked him if he was going to retire.
The employee responded that he was not going to retire and that long service leave had “nothing to do with retirement”.
After eventually agreeing to 13 weeks of long service leave, the employee alleges that when he returned to work he was moved to part-time.
The employee claims that Michael Theravanish then wrote to him advising that his employment would terminate on September 5 because it was company policy not to employ staff after they turned 65 and the employee would turn 65 on September 5.
The FWO alleges that Theravandish and its directors have contravened the Fair Work Act by dismissing the employee; unilaterally changing the employee’s employment status from full-time to part-time; failing to roster the employee; advising the employee in writing that his employment would terminate on his 65th birthday; and refusing to communicate with the employee about his ongoing employment.
It claims the employee has suffered economic and non-economic loss and damage, including stress, humiliation and inconvenience and is seeking penalties against the company and its owners.
The maximum penalty for Theravanish Investments is $33,000 per breach and Nopporn and Michael Theravanish each face maximum penalties of $6,600 per breach.
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