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Help – I Think I’ve been Unfairly Dismissed!

By Sonya Buck, Australia


It’s an awful reality, but sometimes it happens – you may feel you have been unfairly dismissed. If you feel this way, what can you do?


Firstly, there are two different terms you should be aware of in relation to dismissal and termination.


Unfair dismissal relates to if you believe your dismissal has been harsh, unjust or unreasonable.


Unfair termination differs in that it in broad terms it relates to dismissal which could be the above, but includes discrimination.


Before deciding you have been unfairly dismissed, you should be aware of all the policies and procedures from your former workplace.  Have these been followed by you? For instance, if there be an issue about conduct, were you given adequate warnings and an opportunity to correct your behaviour? Nevertheless, the dismissal could still be harsh, unjust or unreasonable.


You must be notified of a valid reason for your termination before any decision is taken to terminate your employment, in order to provide you with an opportunity to respond to the reason identified.


Were you given the opportunity to have a support person with you when your termination was discussed?  Your employer must allow this support and the support person must be permitted to assist you and speak at any termination meeting.


Do you have long history of satisfactory employment with this employer?  This may assist you in your case.


It’s important that you know you can take your Unfair Dismissal case to Fair Work Commission.  

Keep in mind, you must have been employed for:


    -   12 months in a small business (under 15 employees); or

    -   6 months with larger employers


to take your unfair dismissal case to the commission.


Cases taken to the Fair Work Commission are considered on their individual merit, therefore the more evidence you have, the better.


If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, contact the Fair Work Commission immediately, as you only have 21 days from the dismissal date to make a claim.  The first step is completing an application form.


It’s important to note that most unfair dismissal cases are resolved through using conciliation, which usually involves a phone meeting between the 3 parties, yourself, your former employer and the Fair Work Commission Conciliator.    Should this not resolve your situation your case may proceed to a conference or hearing.


You can find more information here - This article is general in nature and you should contact the Fair Work Commission or seek Legal Advice if you find yourself in this situation.