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Why Prioritising Prudence over Pride is Vital: Insights from a Recent Accountant Discrimination Lawsuit

In a recent landmark ruling, an assistant accountant incurred significant financial penalties after contemptuously dismissing what he deemed “preposterous” settlement proposals presented by his ex-employer, Condor Energy Services Limited. The accountant had pursued an unjust action lawsuit, attributing his dismissal to mental health discrimination, subsequent to being let go three months into his probation for alleged counterproductive and negative conduct at work.

The assistant accountant, who was seeking reinstatement, damages, and an apology, refuted accusations of a threat to headbutt a colleague, but acknowledged having an ill-temper. As the case further revealed, the accountant was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and had an extensive mental health treatment history. Nevertheless, Federal Circuit and Family Court Judge Greg Egan ruled out the case in December, after a four-day trial, establishing that the accountant was unable to substantiate a direct correlation between his dismissal and his disability.

Rejection of the Calderbank Offer: A key aspect of the case involved the Calderbank offer proposed by the defendants through their representative Nigel Saines SC in July 2020. The accountant was cautioned that if he chose not to drop the lawsuit, he would face costs. Unfazed, the accountant swiftly rejected this offer, informing Saines dismissively of his decision to proceed with the case.

In a subsequent attempt in May 2021, Saines extended a second offer – a sum of $5000 in addition to any unsettled wages and leave entitlements. The accountant instantly dismissed this offer, deeming the terms “ridiculously low” and expressed his resolve to “carry the case through to its end, irrespective of potential expenses”.

The Final Ruling: When deliberating the cost application, Judge Egan acknowledged the accountant’s curt responses. The immediate and dismissive nature of the accountant’s replies indicated his neglect in thoughtfully considering the repercussions of dismissing the offers. Egan observed that the accountant should have evaluated the defendant’s allegations against his own more carefully. The verdict asserted that the accountant’s decision to continue the case, given the defendants’ rejections, was unjustified.

To sum up, Judge Egan decreed that the accountant should have accepted the initial Calderbank offer and that Condor Energy Services was eligible to claim its proceeding costs from the accountant, effective from the date of the first Calderbank offer.

This case accentuates the significance of meticulously examining settlement proposals in legal disagreements and the potential financial implications of impulsive decisions. While the urge to validate oneself or battle for perceived justice is human, it is essential to counterbalance these emotional motives with the practical implications of the judicial process.

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