Telstra won’t appeal discrimination finding

Telstra will not be appealing against the Federal Court’s recent finding that its former employment relations manager breached the Workplace Relations Act--a breach that the telco giant could be liable for.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--Telstra will not be appealing against the Federal Court’s recent finding that its former employment relations manager breached the Workplace Relations Act--a breach that the telco giant could be liable for.

Justice Finkelstein ruled that an email sent by former senior manager Robert Cartwright to his management team of 275 was in contravention of the Act as it could be interpreted that staff on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) should be treated more favorably than those on individual Telstra Awards when selecting redundancy candidates.

Telstra's public affairs manager of human resources, Megan Lane, said Thursday that the telco “has made the decision not to appeal”.

”We had a number of options, weighed them up and decided to go to submission.”

Both Telstra and the Communications Union now have until July 16 to hand in written submissions concerning the penalty--the size of which will depend if Justice Finkelstein finds Cartwright guilty of breaching the Act just once, or whether fines should be imposed on behalf of 42,500 workers.

“The judge has reserved his decision on penalties but has implied that it could be as much A$420 million against Telstra,” Communications Union organiser Sean Rahui told ZDNet in an earlier interview.

Lane said Telstra’s submission would be that “any penalty should be nominal given that this was not a flagrant breach of the Act”.

While Justice Finkelstein didn’t reject Cartwright’s evidence as improbable, he found that Telstra couldn’t “positively disprove” the allegation.

”These matters are all part of our submission,” Lane said.

Once the submissions have been received, Justice Finkelstein will make a final determination on the penalty.

His decision is expected by the end of the month.

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