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Who should leave the workplace

Legal case - domestic violence

Published: September 2015

If a husband and wife both work for the same employer and the husband is found guilty of domestic violence against the wife, who should leave – the victim or the perpetrator?

image of wife and husband in an office resolving dispute
In a recent case, the Eliana Group dismissed a woman despite the fact that court modified its intervention order so she and her husband continue to work in the same office. 

The woman claimed that she had been unfairly dismissed. The Fair Work Commissioner found that the employer had made no effort to consider whether or not it could continue to employ both parties. It did not discuss the issues with them and since they did not have to directly engage during the work day there was no reason why normal work could not continue. 

There was no evidence of performance or conduct problems with Mrs Moghimi and her situation was made particularly difficult because she was a new immigrant in a domestic violence situation. She liked the job - it was important to her future, she was learning new skills and developing a portfolio. 

The Commissioner said the actions of Eliana reinforced the message that it was the victim of domestic violence that had to be removed from the workplace, not the man.

She was awarded $27,500 which was the maximum compensation but was not reinstated because she had already got another job. 

Mrs Leyla Moghimi v Eliana Construction T/A Eliana Group [2015] FWC 4864 (23 July 2015)

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