What Constitutes Unfair Dismissal in Australia?


One of the worst things that could happen to anyone is being dismissed from their job, let alone in an unfair manner. Sadly, unfair dismissal is an issue that continues to threaten the livelihoods of people all around the country on a daily basis. If you feel like you have been unfairly dismissed in Melbourne, you should definitely stick around because this is the article for you. Today, we have a look at what constitutes unfair dismissal and the actions you can take if you find yourself in such a predicament, so read on to find out more. 

What Is Unfair Dismissal?

To find out if you are entitled to taking legal action against your previous employer, it is important that we fully understand what unfair dismissal means. As a general understanding, unfair dismissal is when an individual has been dismissed and the dismissal violates federal, state or local laws. This also includes the violation of agreements and employment contracts at the time of termination. Here are some examples of unfair dismissal in Australia:

Breach of Agreement or Contract

If an employee has been terminated in violation of their employment contract or agreement, this constitutes unfair dismissal. When it comes to contracts, both implied and written contracts are taken into consideration. Considering each employment contract is unique in itself, it is important that you go through your particular contract thoroughly and with the help of a lawyer if you feel like you have been unfairly dismissed. 
Any Type Of Discrimination

Being terminated on the basis of discrimination is something that is taken seriously and a violation of federal law. If you feel like you have been discriminated against or terminated for reasons such as gender, race, religion, age or disability then you may indeed find yourself at the beginnings of an unfair dismissal claim. By law, it is illegal for employers to use any of the aforementioned reasons to dismiss an employee and if this is the case, we highly recommend talking to a trusted lawyer in order to further assess your individual situations and options. 

All Types of  Harassment

Workplace harassment can be categorised as offensive behaviours, remarks or actions made against a former employee based on their race, gender, religion, nationality, age or disability. If you find yourself in a situation where you have been terminated due to someone else’s inappropriate behaviour towards you in the workplace (bullying, sexual advances, interpersonal relationships that may have contributed to your termination), then you may have grounds for filing for unfair dismissal against your employer. 


Retaliation is the last reason that can contribute to unfair dismissal — by law, employers are not allowed to “punish” employees for participation in reporting unlawful activities within the business. Should an employee report these unlawful affairs (tax evasion, suspicious activities etc) to the relevant authorities, an employer has no right to retaliate by wrongfully dismissing them.  unlawful termination includes retaliation. If an employee is indeed terminated for this reason, he or she may very well have an incredibly strong case against their employer for unfair termination.

What Do I Do If I Am A Victim of Unfair Dismissal?

If you find yourself on the receiving end of unfair dismissal, there are a few options available to you. It is important that you contact a trusted lawyer, ensure you are eligible for unfair dismissal and also apply for wrongful dismissal with Fair Work. Time is of the essence in such a situation, which is why getting advice from a legal professional is so important. 

After your previous employer has had a chance to respond to your claim, and if mediation is unsuccessful, your application will be forwarded for a future hearing with the Commission. If the commission rules in your favour, you may be able to return to work or receive monetary compensation and a positive reference from your previous employer. 

We hope that this article has been helpful in giving you the knowledge you need to ascertain if you have been unfairly dismissed by your previous employer. If you do find yourself in such a pickle, we highly recommend speaking to an experienced lawyer who will be able to assist you in filing your application for unfair dismissal and giving you the best shot at winning your case. All the best and good luck! 

Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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