The general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 give an employee who is the subject of adverse action (which includes a dismissal from employment) various remedies including unlimited compensation for exercising a worplace right. A person has a workplace right under sub-sec 341(1)(c)(ii) of the Act, inter alia, where the person is able to make a complaint or inquiry in relation to his or her employment.
However the cases on what this means are conflicting and uncertain. In Harrison v In Control Pty Ltd (2013) FMCA 149 the Federal Circuit Court suggested that the inquiry or complaint must have a contractual or statutory basis capable of being enforced by an external party or regulator. This, on its face, is inconsistent with Devonshire v Magellan Powertronics (2013) FMCA 207 in which the Federal Circuit Court took a much wider view and concluded that it was enough that the complaint or inquiry was made to the employer. According to that view, it is arguable that the right being expressed may derive from a mere incident of employment, like a concern for the employee’s work security.