By Leigh Johnston
A HR manager is accusing her former employer of making her redundant in vengeance for complaints about possible Modern Award breaches and her objection to hiring the general manager’s daughter as her assistant.
In an adverse action claim with the Federal Court of Australia, the former HR manager is seeking over $270,000 in past and future economic loss, plus damages for humiliation. She claims the electric vehicle charging company Tritium gave her just two business days’ notice of her redundancy in May 2019.
According to her statement, her redundancy came just days after she challenged Tritium managers for allegedly reaching a decision to make others redundant without first involving the HR department in the appropriate discussions.
She also claims during the course of her employment, the general manager had asked her to “get rid” of a “significant number” of workers on performance management plans.
She associates her own redundancy with several complaints made in the course of carrying out her duties, including her opinion that Tritium breached the terms under the Manufacturing Award by failing to provide sufficient notice of a requirement for production workers to take a week’s annual leave over Easter.
Following her raised concerns, she made a bullying complaint against the general manager, claiming he embarrassed her in front of other senior employees by saying words to the effect of, “Here comes the [HR manager] to moan about the email I just sent about the Easter closure.”
After asking the company last year to hire an HR administrative officer because she and a colleague were “drowning due to the high volume of work”, the HR manager also claims the general manager refused to authorise the employment of a successful candidate.
Instead, she alleges he told her to interview and consider hiring his daughter.
But when she claimed his daughter was unsuitable as she was neither experienced, nor interested in an HR career – yet sought a salary $10,000 a year above the budget approved – the general manager allegedly said there was no longer a role to be filled because the entire budget was slashed.
In April, Tritium then hired an HR consultant, but the HR manager claims they failed to consult with her about the candidate’s employment or position description. She says she was alerted when the general manager directed the IT department to generate a ticket “for the [HR manager’s] position prior to her being notified of her redundancy.”
The HR manager further claims that Tritium failed to offer redeployment options despite being a large global business and “continued to recruit for a number of positions affected by redundancies.”
She says she was exercising her workplace right under s341 of the Fair Work Act by making a complaint or enquiry in relation to her employment.
In May, the Tritium is understood to have dismissed almost 10% of its global workforce, before announcing last month that it was commencing a $30 million “equity raising round to fund its growth on the back of a series of significant customer deals across the globe”.
Tritium is yet to file a defence to the HR manager’s claims and declined to comment while the matter was before the courts.