Helen's story - unfairly dismissed at 17 with a family and schooling to support

Unfairly dismissed at 17 with a family and schooling to support

Helen was a 17 year-old living with her mother and brother and studying year 12 at high school when she came to see a lawyer from Inner Melbourne Community Legal on-site at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Helen had spent some time as an inpatient at the Hospital and she had also been undergoing periods of unstable housing and homelessness.

Helen had been working part-time at a fast food restaurant and her income was helping to supplement the income of her mother and brother. Helen’s employer was aware of her difficult personal circumstances and Helen had always provided medical certificates to her employer when she was absent from work.

Helen had been due to go to work one day but woke up feeling unwell and unable to work. Helen notified her employer and was immediately dismissed by way of text message on the basis that she had not provided sufficient notice. This was despite Helen’s assurance that she would provide a doctor’s certificate and her apologies for the late notice.

When Helen came to see us at the Children’s Hospital, she had already lodged her own unfair dismissal application with Fair Work Australia because she felt that she had not been treated fairly by her employer. This job was Helen’s first job and she didn’t want the dismissal to impact her ability to secure future employment and she was also relying on  her lost earnings for the shifts she was unable to work due to the dismissal.

Inner Melbourne Community Legal contacted a large commercial law firm who agreed to assist Helen on a pro bono basis before the Fair Work Commission. The parties settled with Helen receiving a monetary sum, a statement of service with her employer and a reference to assist her in seeking further employment in the future.