Employment Practices Liability

Carter Newell Lawyers is an award winning specialist law firm providing legal advice to Australian and international corporate clients.

Our employment practices liability (EPL) team led by Financial Lines insurance partners Michael Gapes and Mark Brookes can provide advice in respect of claims arising out of employment and contractual issues raised by employees, former employees, potential employees and contractors. Employment liabilities range from claims for discrimination (age, sex, race, disability), unfair or unlawful dismissal, adverse action involving workplace rights and harassment of any nature such as sexual harassment or bullying. Other examples of litigated employment relationship issues are disputes over wage rates, overtime and entitlements, and complaints regarding disciplinary processes for underperformance, breach of confidentiality, breach of social media guidelines and drug and alcohol testing.

Our experience in this area includes:

  • Acted for a large number of transport companies in claims disputing whether a worker is an employee or a contractor (with associated disputes over unpaid tax, superannuation, annual leave, long service leave and overtime).
  • Acted for an independent school in a claim for underpayment of entitlements and civil penalties prosecuted on behalf of the employee by their union.
  • Acted for a large motor dealership in relation to a sexual harassment complaint brought by a male worker.
  • Acted for a government department in a protracted unlawful discrimination complaint brought by former employee.
  • Acted for numerous employers in sexual harassment cases involving both physical and emotional threats and intimidation.
  • Successfully defended numerous applications for extension of the limitation period for filing of unfair dismissal and adverse action claims.
  • Acted for a major construction company in defence of a breach of employment contract claim by a former executive.

Due to the low cost of initiating applications in the Fair Work jurisdiction, claims can often have little or no merit but be pursued nonetheless. All such claims have a cost in time, effort and money. Businesses with EPL cover, as a stand-alone policy or an extension of a Directors’ & Officers’ or Management Liability policy, do however have the benefit of access to expert legal and strategic advice to minimise or avoid much of these costs.

Using experts who handle both employment related claims and insurance claims is of benefit to insurers and insureds. Carter Newell has the combined expertise wherein the team regularly deals with indemnity issues for policies covering all aspects of professional indemnity and Directors’ & Officers’ claims, as well as pure employment issues of the nature covered by EPL policies. This combined expertise assists our clients in coming to swift, amicable, commercially and business sensible settlements where possible, and taking the appropriate stance on the defence of litigated claims where settlement is unachievable or unjustified.

The team can:

  • Advise on coverage and policy issues of employment related claims.
  • Defend claims from employees, contractors or temporary workers on any employment related matter from adverse action, unfair or unlawful dismissal, sexual harassment, discrimination, to underpayment of entitlements.
  • Draft, settle, file and serve relevant Fair Work Commission Forms and Defences including Form F3 Employer’s Response to Application for Unfair Dismissal Remedy, Form F4 Objection to Application for Unfair Dismissal Remedy, and Form F8A Employer's Response to Application for the Commission to Deal with a General Protections Dispute, including on a short or urgent basis (same day turnaround).
  • Attend the appointed Fair Work Commission or any state body conciliation conference.
  • Draft settlement deeds and all necessary correspondence and communications to facilitate the execution of the deed, payment of settlement monies (if any payable) and the filing Notices of Discontinuance.
  • Conduct any claim pursued beyond conciliation in the Fair Work Commission, Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, Queensland Industrial Court, QCAT, Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court or High Court, and or relevant court of any State or Territory.

The inaugural Workplace Relations Gazette 3rd edition provides insurers, brokers and professional and corporate clients, with recent decisions relating to unfair dismissal, redundancy, adverse action, breach of contract and discrimination. This edition of the Gazette has been created by our specialised industrial and workplace relations team in consultation with our internationally recognised insurance practice.

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