ASMOF considers class action

30-Aug-2019

On Tuesday we reached out to members to advise that we are considering a possible class action against on behalf of our doctors-in-training. This was reported on in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

This decision has not been taken lightly and has been years in the making. ASMOF and our members can no longer stand by and let doctors be made to work excessive, unsafe hours, and work overtime without pay. We believe we need to send a clear message to the NSW Government that wage theft is not an acceptable operating model. We need to stand together to expose the real cost of the work doctors do in our public hospitals, and keep our staff and patients safe by pushing for fundamental changes to doctors' working conditions. Making the NSW Medical Officers Award as safe as it is possible would be a condition of any settlement.

The first step is to determine if we have enough members able and prepared to be claimants in a class action that we run.

What is a class action?

A class action is a legal proceeding allowing the claims of many individuals against the same employer, arising out of the same, similar or related circumstances, to be conducted by a single representative or representatives. In the context of DiTs a class action can be commenced on the basis of claiming underpayments under the Award and/or regarding safety breaches. If we do commence a class action against NSW Health the threshold is relatively low:

  • there must be 7 or more members who have a claim against the employer
  • Only one of the claimants must be identified, the other 6 remain completely anonymous
  • the claims of all 7 or more members must arise out of the same, similar or related circumstances
  • the claims of all member must give rise to a substantial common issue of law or fact
  • the claims must have arisen in the past six years.

Class actions have been commonly used to litigate shareholder actions and product liability claims. But until recently, they have been rarely used in the context of employment related disputes.

Members and former members can find out more about the class action or share their experiences of working excessive hours or unpaid overtime by emailing us at classaction@asmof.org.au. Your details will remain confidential and there will be no obligation to take part in the class action investigation going forward.