Phone retailer prosecuted over parental leave discrimination

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Phone retailer prosecuted over parental leave discrimination

A mobile phone retailer and its managing director are being prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman for allegedly discriminating against an employee when she attempted to return from parental leave.

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A mobile phone retailer and its managing director are being prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman for allegedly discriminating against an employee when she attempted to return from parental leave.
 
Facing court is Tiger Telco Pty Ltd — which operate 21 ‘Mo’s Mobile’ stores in South Australia and Victoria — and its managing director Ibrahim Ramadan.
 
Documents lodged by the Ombudsman in the Federal Court in Melbourne allege that Telco, through the actions of the director, unlawfully discriminated against an employee when she attempted to return to work after taking unpaid parental leave.
 
Worker’s position filled without consultation
 
The employee had been employed as the manager of the Mo’s Mobile store in Corio for almost two years when she took unpaid parental leave in June 2009, shortly before she had a baby.
 
The Ombudsman alleges that when the worker sought to return to work from parental leave last year, the director refused to allow her to return to the store manager position at Corio.
 
The director had allegedly engaged another worker in the position permanently without consulting the employee, and offered the employee, who lives in northern Geelong, manager positions at Mo’s Mobiles stores in Watergardens and Airport West, both about one-hour’s drive from the employee’s home.
 
The Ombudsman claims that when the employee declined the positions because of her family responsibilities and again asked to return to the Corio store, the director made the continuation of her employment conditional on her accepting one of the positions.
 
The employee’s employment with Tiger Telco came to an end a short time later, in June 2010.
 
Company faces fines of up to $237,000
 
The Ombudsman alleges Mr Ramadan was involved in Tiger Telco committing six breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy and family-and-carer responsibilities.
 
The conduct also allegedly contravened the requirement under workplace law for employers to allow employees to resume their previous position — or another mutually agreed position- on their return from parental leave.
 
Tiger Telco faces potential maximum penalties of $33,000 per breach and the director faces potential maximum penalties of $6600 per breach.
 
The Ombudsman is seeking a Court Order for Tiger Telco to pay compensation to the employee for economic and non-economic loss.
 
FWO Executive Director Michael Campbell said that this is the third prosecution alleging unlawful discrimination since the Agency assumed powers to investigate unlawful workplace discrimination in July 2009.
 
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