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Legal Practice

We run a legal casework practice supporting vulnerable Victorian workers every year with their rights at work. Many of our cases are run through our special projects that address identified demand among vulnerable workers.

Our clients may be more vulnerable to exploitative work situations because of their gender, race, culture, location, class, age or visa status. The majority of our clients are not union members, cannot afford legal assistance from a private lawyer, and do not have the capacity for self-representation on their matter.

Our lawyers assist people to enforce their work rights, ensuring that laws are not merely theoretical or only for those wealthy enough to afford private legal representation. They provide real access to justice.

In addition to handling individual cases, our lawyers are involved in supporting the Telephone Information Service (TIS) through training, monitoring and supervising interns and volunteers, in our law reform activities and in community legal education.

The majority of referrals to our Legal Practice are through the TIS, so we recommend that all workers contact the TIS for legal information in the first instance.

Case Study: Libby

Libby is an older woman who was employed in an aged care facility as a carer for over 10 years in a regular casual capacity. The facility changed ownership but kept all previous employees recognising their service.

Following the change of ownership, Libby’s manager repeatedly made comments about Libby’s age and that it was time that Libby retired. Subsequently, Libby’s shifts were moved from her usual weekend roster and she was told by her employer that this was because it was too expensive to pay her weekend rates.

Libby observed that the facility had begun using young migrant workers to fill the weekend shifts in her place, often failing to provide them with breaks between long shifts. Libby later found out that the migrant workers were being substantially underpaid. When Libby raised the issue with her employer, her employment was terminated.

JobWatch provided Libby with advice regarding her possible causes of action. Based on this advice, Libby chose to pursue a General Protections Dispute – Termination claim. JobWatch assisted Libby by drafting and filing the initiating application and representing her during the conference conducted by a member of the Fair Work Commission. The matter was settled at the conference and Libby obtained compensation and a statement of service.

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