The state government of New South Wales has been left red-faced after it was ordered to reinstate a lawyer who was dismissed for questioning the pay scales of colleagues. It was one of the most expensive cases to ever have been launched by a state government against an unfair dismissal claim and cost some $1.5m.
The Industrial Relations Commission found in its judgment that the 2009 sacking of RTA lawyer Rosanna Ganino was not only unfair but “harsh” and that she should be immediately reinstated with $300,000 in back pay.
Ganino was sacked for misconduct following claims she accessed a document that revealed the pay rates of her colleagues, one of whom was the wife of ALP heavyweight Paul Howes, Lucy Howes. The RTA had alleged Ganino used information obtained about her and other solicitors for personal gain. Yet last night, senior government sources told The Daily Telegraph that it was a "mystery" why the RTA pursued the case for so long at such a significant expense.
In the IRC judgment, Commissioner Inaam Tabbaa said the nature of the misconduct contained in the allegations relied on by the respondent was not sufficient to warrant the termination. “I accept the applicant's submission that the penalty of dismissal is disproportionate and consider the termination to be harsh,” she said.
The Roads and Maritime Services, the department which has now incorporated the RTA, said Ganino was to be reinstated to her former position “as soon as practicable”.
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