Termination of employment - where to get legal help

Women

Have you recently lost your job in Victoria for reasons you think are unfair?

You could have a legal right to challenge your dismissal, but you need to do it within 21 days of losing your job. That's why you should deal with it straight away.

We explain what you should do first.

1. Get legal advice quickly

The first thing you should do is seek legal advice, because challenging your dismissal can be technical and you want to make sure you get the best outcome.

You only have 21 days to challenge your dismissal, so get legal help quickly.

There are free legal services and private lawyers who can advise you on whether your employer has acted unlawfully and help you through the process. Their contact details are at the bottom of this post.

2. Find out difference between unfair dismissal and discrimination

The two most common types of unlawful termination are:

  • unfair dismissal – for reasons that are harsh, unfair or unreasonable
  • discrimination – for example racism or sexism.

We explain them.

Unfair dismissal

Unfair dismissal is when you’ve been fired for reasons that are harsh, unfair or unreasonable. An example could be if you think your employer has made a minor issue into a major issue – just to dismiss you.

You need to have been employed for at least 6 months to be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim, or a year if you were employed by small business (fewer than 15 employees).

To challenge your termination on the basis of unfair dismissal you need to apply to the Fair Work Commission. If your application is successful, you will receive what is known as a 'remedy.' This includes financial compensation or being reinstated into the same role.

We recommend getting help from a legal professional before you fill in the application form.

To find out more about the application process, visit the Fair Work Commission website.

Discrimination

Discrimination is when you are treated differently because of a personal characteristic such as your race, gender or sexuality. Discrimination is covered by 'general protections' that protect your workplace rights.

If you believe you have been dismissed because of discrimination, you will need to make a general protections application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of losing your job.

You can make an application no matter how long you have been employed for.

We recommend getting help from a legal professional before you fill in the application form to make sure you get the best outcome.

You can find out more about the process on the Fair Work Commission website.

4. Keep as much documentation as possible

​The more information you have the better. It's a good idea to keep records of what has occurred, as well as documents such as payslips, emails, warnings, group certificates and contracts.

5. Know what outcome you want

It's a good idea to know whether you want to get your job back and whether you want compensation – and, if so, how much. You can discuss this when you speak to a lawyer.

Where to get legal advice

There are free legal services available that can help you, including:

  • the Workplace Advice Clinic run by JobWatch and Springvale Monash Legal Service provides 1-hour free legal assistance. To arrange an appointment contact the Fair Work Commission on 1300 799 675.
  • Job Watch, call (03) 9662 1933
  • your local community legal centre, call (03) 9652 1500.

If you would like a private lawyer:

To find a local lawyer in Victoria, you can use the Law Institute of Victoria's referral service. Call them on (03) 9607 9550.

Find out more about your termination of employment rights

This page was last updated on August 29, 2016