Adero Law filed a class action in the Federal Court on 4 February 2019 against labour hire company WorkPac for the misclassification of workers and underpayment of employment entitlements on behalf of claimants working at various Black Coal mining sites in Queensland and New South Wales. If you have been employed as a casual by WorkPac at any time since 4 February 2013, and work or worked at a Black Coal mining site in accordance with a long form roster, it is not too late to join this action.
On 4 February 2019, Adero Law filed a class action lawsuit against WorkPac Pty Ltd (WorkPac), alleging that WorkPac misclassified its workers as ‘casual’ employees, rather than permanent employees with the appropriate statutory entitlements.
WorkPac is one of Australia’s largest labour hire companies, holding commercial contracts with mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Glencore, and has an annual turnover of more than $1.3 billion.
The class action against WorkPac has been brought by Mr. Matthew Petersen, on behalf of himself and many thousands of coal mining workers in the same or similar circumstances to him (claimants).
The claimants allege that although they were employed by WorkPac as ‘casual’ employees, as they were working to long-term rosters, they were in reality ‘permanent’ employees. Due to that misclassification, the claimants are owed unpaid annual and personal leave entitlements, which they now claim from WorkPac.
The class action is progressing through the Court process. WorkPac has filed its response to the claimants’ allegations (defence), and the claimants have filed their reply to WorkPac’s defence. We have made submissions, on Mr Petersen’s behalf, in a related proceeding in the interests of all claimants in the class action. Further orders as to the progress of the class action will be made in due course.
It is clear that the Black Coal industry has made it common practice to casualise a large part of its workforce, to create a two-tier workforce. Many thousands of workers are eligible to join the class action and fight for compensation.
“Adero is bringing the fight to big mining. The industry is failing its employees at a time when it is making the fattest profits. You’ve been told to wait for that permanent shirt, but permanent gigs left this industry five years ago. You now earn less money than miners were getting 15 years ago – but people stay silent and pretend that it’s normal. It is not normal for a casual worker to be paid substantially less than a permanent employee. It is not normal for one worker to earn up to $75,000.00 more per year than another worker doing the same job, on the same roster – just wearing a different shirt. I know you fear for your jobs but waiting and fearing leads to nothing. Without you, there’s no industry, and no profit. We have got to stop this happening to your family, your community and your career. It’s time to take this fight head on!” – Rory Markham, Adero Law’s Managing Principal.
Adero Law encourages anyone who worked for WorkPac at a Black Coal mining site, to a long-term roster, from 4 February 2013 to register for this class action.
Please contact Adero Law via the “Register Interest” button to receive further information about your options and legal rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although circumstances can vary, the general structure of a class action proceeding run by Adero Law is as follows:
- A wrongdoing occurs that affects a group of people (claimants) in a similar way.
- Adero’s Claim Origination team investigate the wrongdoing by conducting due diligence investigations and liaising with a lead claimant.
- The claim is filed in Court.
- Claimants enter into a litigation funding agreement with a third-party litigation funder willing to finance the class action on the claim is basis.
- Pleadings and other Court documents are finalised and filed with the Court.
- Claimants have a chance to opt-out of the class action.
- Evidence is compiled and the claim is prepared for trial.
- If appropriate, mediation or settlement discussions take place between the parties.
- If a settlement agreement is not reached, the claim proceeds to trial.
- Once a settlement agreement has been reached, claimants are notified, and a timetable put in place for any objections or submissions to be made ahead of a hearing.
- A settlement hearing occurs.
- If the settlement is approved, a distribution scheme will be implemented under the guidance of the Court.
No. The litigation funder will cover legal fees on a no-win no-fee basis regardless of the outcome of the case. You will not have to personally pay Adero Law or the litigation funder any monies unless you are successful, in which case the only money you will pay to the funder will come from any successful outcome you receive. You will not have to pay anything more than what you receive.
Yes. Only the lead claimant will be named in the class action. Your name will not be made public unless you have specifically consented.
Whilst individual circumstances will vary, Adero undertakes due diligence in relation to likely damages calculations. The amount of underpayment varies depending on the claim being brought, such as a breach of the enterprise agreement or a breach of the National Employment Standards, and the hourly rates used.
Adero will make every effort to recover all potential underpayments owing to members of a class action (claimants). Claimants should be aware that the recovery of any underpayment will be subject to terms of the funding agreement, which provides for a return on investment to the funder. For more information on the terms of the funding agreement of any current class action, please request an FAQ Sheet by email at email@example.com or by contacting (02) 6189 1022.
No. It is the third-party litigation funder that receives a return on investment if a class action is successful, as they are the party that bears the risk.
No. Your employer cannot terminate your employment for participating in a class action. This will amount to an adverse action. Moreover, your name will not be disclosed without your express consent. This means that your employer cannot know you joined an action unless you tell them, you tell someone else or instruct us to disclose your name. We do not identify our clients, not even to other members of the action.
No. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) s 340 prevents employers from treating you differently for exercising your workplace rights. It is unlawful to punish an employee in any way for joining a class action. If you believe this has happened to you, contact us at Adero Law and we will promptly investigate.
No. Both union members and non-members are encouraged to join so that we can win back the entitlements that are owed to everyone.
Yes. Our claimants include current and past workers.