A case of ‘small’ business

Pharmacist criticised after losing unfair dismissal case, with Commission finding in favour of the pharmacy employer

A pharmacist who claimed she was unfairly dismissed has lost her application before the Fair Work Commission.

The health practitioner had been employed on a casual basis by a Victorian pharmacy during a period of maternity leave taken by another pharmacist.

She was dismissed upon that pharmacist’s return, having served eight months with the pharmacy.

Her former employer objected to the unfair dismissal application, saying the pharmacist had not served the minimum employment period.

It claimed it was a small business employer and thus the minimum period was one year as opposed to the usual six months.

The Commission found the pharmacy was a ‘small business employer’ at the relevant time, as it only had nine employees, including the pharmacist who was dismissed.

She needed to have served one year of minimum employment before being able to bring an unfair dismissal application against the pharmacy.

Her application for unfair dismissal was dismissed.

Commission Deputy President Alan Colman criticised the pharmacist for doing “almost nothing” to pursue her claim, including ignoring directions to file materials and failing to participate in proceedings without discontinuing the application.

“While the pharmacy, the public service, the Commission, and ultimately therefore the taxpayer were at work on [her] unfair dismissal application, she did almost nothing,” said Mr Colman.

“Meanwhile the pharmacy, a small country business, was put to the effort of responding to her claim. It quite properly took the claim seriously.

“In my view there should be more robust consequences under the Act for litigants who fail to make reasonable efforts to prosecute applications.”

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