Workplace Complaints and Employer Obligations: Understanding Your Rights and Protections


As a law firm specialising in employment law in the Illawarra, we understand the concerns that employees may have about their rights and protections in the workplace, particularly in cases involving complaints made against employees regarding their conduct or behaviour. In this article, we want to emphasise the importance of employer protocols and their compliance with relevant legislation in handling such complaints.

Employment Law in NSW

Under New South Wales employment laws, employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and respectful work environment, free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying. This obligation is supported by various legislative frameworks, including the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (Cth), the Fair Work Act 2009 (cth), and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth).

When a complaint is made against an employee for making inappropriate comments at work, employers must follow proper protocols in investigating and resolving the matter. This includes:

  1. Conducting a fair and thorough investigation, 
  2. providing the accused employee with an opportunity to respond, and considering all relevant facts and circumstances in line with their policies, procedures, contractual obligations, and the requirements of the law.

Failure to comply with these protocols can have serious legal consequences for employers. They may be in breach of their duty of care towards their employees, exposing themselves to potential legal claims for damages and compensation. Employers may also face penalties, fines, or other sanctions imposed by regulatory bodies for non-compliance with employment laws.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities 

As an employee, it’s crucial to be aware of your rights and protections in such situations. You have the right to be treated fairly and in accordance with the law. If you believe that your employer is not following proper protocols or is unfairly handling a complaint against you for making inappropriate comments at work, it’s essential to seek legal advice from a qualified employment lawyer.

Our experienced employment law team at Maguire & McInerney can assess your situation, provide expert guidance, and ensure that your employer complies with relevant legislation in handling the complaint. They can advocate for your rights, help you present your side of the story, and take appropriate legal action on your behalf if your employer is not fulfilling their legal obligations.

It’s also important to note that as an employee, you are protected from adverse action or retaliation by your employer for making a complaint, participating in an investigation, or exercising your legal rights, as provided under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). If you believe that you are facing unfair treatment or retaliation as a result of a complaint against you, we can assist you in asserting your rights and seeking appropriate remedies.


In conclusion, employer protocols and compliance with relevant legislation are crucial in handling complaints against employees for making inappropriate comments at work. Employers have a legal obligation to follow proper procedures, and failure to do so may result in serious legal consequences. As an employee, it’s important to be aware of your rights, seek legal advice when needed, and ensure that your employer complies with their legal obligations. With proper legal representation, you can protect your interests, assert your rights, and achieve a fair resolution in such situations.

We have experience in acting on behalf of both employees and employers. If you are an employee or employer that requires expert employment law advice, contact Mark McDonald or Lewis Bonney on 4228 5911 today.

Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of general nature only and is based on the law as of the date of publication. It is not, nor is intended to be legal advice. If you wish to take any action based on the content of this publication we recommend that you seek professional advice.