Written by Justin Pen, Solicitor, Marrickville Legal Centre
Recently, in Retail and Fast Food Workers Union Incorporated v Tantex Holdings Pty Ltd  FCA 1258, the Federal Court of Australia has recently held that a Crew Member of a McDonald’s restaurant franchise in Queensland had a “workplace right” to access the bathroom and have a drink of water during working hours.
The Court was required to determine that such conduct amounted to a “workplace right” for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), because the Crew Member alleged that the McDonald’s restaurant franchise had, among other things, misrepresented the Crew Member’s workplace rights in a Facebook post it had published in relation to its employees’ right to take a pause from their work to use the bathroom or have a drink of water.
Relevantly, the Court found that the Crew Member’s workplace rights had been misrepresented to her; that the McDonald’s restaurant franchise had threatened to take “adverse action” against her, because she had exercised her workplace rights; and that the McDonald’s restaurant franchise had coerced her into not exercising her workplace rights, by way of the Facebook post it had published.
The Court reserved its position on the issue of compensation and penalties to be imposed against the McDonald’s restaurant franchise.