Terminated worker 'threatened' over underpayment dispute

Former employee alleges private golf club warned her 'this will end badly' if she didn't drop issue

Terminated worker 'threatened' over underpayment dispute

An employee has cried foul after accusing her former employer of terminating her after she sought back pay for unpaid commission.

The case, heard in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, has received media attention due to allegations of threats and intimidation made by the employer, a private golf club. The company and its owner have been sued by the employee, a former sales representative.

Before the court, the employee filed a case for damages and penalties, claiming that the employer owed her back-payment of $64,000 in commission. She also said that before the termination of employment, the employer allegedly insisted that she drop the issue and threatened her by saying, “this will end badly [for] you.” The employee also said that the owner’s son had intimidated her into abandoning the claim.

According to records, before the employee was dismissed, the employer gave her 500 vouchers valued at $120 each. Allegedly, the employer told her that “she could sell the vouchers and keep the profit,” a move that she reportedly accepted as “a token of appreciation and recognition of her low base salary.” However, the vouchers did not “offset any alleged underpayment.”

The employer further alleged that she “repeatedly asked” the owner, general manager and accountant to give the unpaid sales commissions. She then formalised her request after receiving no response. Soon after, the employee was informed in a meeting that her role had been made redundant, effective immediately. The golf club and its owner have yet to file their defence.

Takeaways for HR leaders

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) reacted to the case in a media release, reminding businesses and employers that they should be aware of employment terms and conditions.

“This includes correctly identifying an industrial instrument which applies, as well as understanding any contractual provisions,” the VCCI said.

The VCCI also advised employers that it should remain complaint by conducting regular audits and reviews to prevent similar disputes. “If an underpayment is identified it must be remedied immediately,” the VCCI said.

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