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Executive contract claims and the Fair Work Act

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Executive contract claims and the Fair Work Act

Professor Joellen Riley Munton, UTS

Recorded at UTS in October, 2020

Joellen Riley Munton takes a look at cases involving a rather odd provision of the Fair Work Act that allows employees (without any restrictions on income levels) to bring claims for reinstatement to their jobs on the basis that the employer has taken adverse action against them for raising a workplace complaint. One particular case captured her attention — Keenan v Cummins South Pacific [2018] FCCA 2600; [2019] FCCA 523. The case has been appealed to a full bench of the Federal Court and has been reserved for quite some time.

Why is this interesting? Because it looks like another of those odd statutory provisions that has been used by very senior executives to achieve results that undermine general contract law principles. 

While awaiting the appeal decision, she also explores some other cases to see how serious a challenge this provision makes to orthodox contract law principles such as:

• The employer can dismiss without a reason, so long as notice is given

• There are no damages for hurt and humiliation (Addis v Gramophone Record Co)

• Injunctive orders requiring restoration of a personal services relationship will not be ordered

• Remedies in contract are not punitive.
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Speaker Professor Joellen Riley Munton, UTS
Date October, 2020
Venue UTS
Length 25.21
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