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Injunction against forced 'retirement' upheld

QUEENSLAND'S highest court has upheld an Ipswich corrective services employee's right to seek an injunction against her forced "ill-health retirement".

Peta Michelle Attrill has levelled an anti-discrimination case at the government after she was directed to undergo a medical examination with a psychiatrist for a perceived deterioration in her performance at work in 2011.

The specialist deemed Ms Attrill, who had a medical history of anxiety and depression, unable to perform her duties on a permanent footing and believed a workplace rehabilitation program would not help.

Ms Attrill was subsequently told transfer or redeployment were not reasonable or practical options and invited to show cause why she should not be retired from the public service.

She lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission, arguing the government had discriminated against her impairment.

Ms Attrill also applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an injunction to restrain the government from continuing the ill-health retirement process until her complaint had been dealt with.

Ultimately, QCAT will hear the matter at a future date but the government took the case to the Court of Appeal, which handed down a judgment on Friday.

The Court of Appeal had to determine whether a section of the Public Service Act, dealing with public servants suffering from mental or physical incapacity, could exclude provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act for impairment discrimination.

The Queensland Government argued the Public Service Act was exempt from the impairment discrimination provisions under the other Act.

Ms Attrill and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner argued the Anti-Discrimination Act was designed to prohibit unfavourably treating an impaired worker, including by dismissal.

Justice Cate Holmes said the complaint included the failure to consider transfer or secondment options and not providing her with the opportunity of another placement.

She said, after considering both Acts, those matters could "properly form a basis for granting injunctive relief".


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