Cynthia Elachi

Clayton Utz
Special Counsel Sydney

Cynthia brings holistic and commercially attuned experience across all aspects of employment law, ranging from strategic employment advice, unfair dismissal and adverse action claims, to defending large-scale employment-related litigation.

Cynthia regularly undertakes the role of workplace investigator for clients, dealing with issues involving bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and intoxication at work. Cynthia's investigation experience is extensive and highly sought after, crossing a variety of industries including technology, entertainment and tertiary education.

Cynthia often appears on behalf of major corporate clients across all jurisdictions including the NSW Supreme Court and the Federal Court of Australia on a variety of issues, such as restraint of trade matters and breach of contract cases. She works closely with her clients to promote positive workplace culture, assisting with drafting employment policies and conducting client workshops on a variety of topics including managing poor performance, termination of employment and providing EEO and bullying and harassment training.

Cynthia is a keen speaker having presented a number of seminars and workshops on a variety of employment law issues. On account of her particular interest in workplace investigations, she has presented seminars and conducted all day training workshops on the fundamentals of workplace investigations for both clients and for external organisations.

Notable Work
  • Wipro Limited: Cynthia played an integral part in overturning 50 years of case law in NSW in the matter of Wipro Limited v State of New South Wales [2022] NSWCA 265 which overturned long-standing authority on the calculation of ""service"" for the purposes of long service leave with respect to employees who also work abroad.
  • Infosys Technologies Limited: Acted for global IT company, Infosys Technologies Limited, in its successful Court of Appeal proceedings brought against the State of Victoria, challenging established legal authority on the interpretation of the Victorian Long Service Leave Act 2018.
  • Afterpay: Advised Afterpay on employment implications both locally and abroad arising from its acquisition by Block. Specifically advised in relation to consultation obligations, management of potential redundancies triggered by the consolidation of Block and Afterpay workforces, transfer of business implications, implications of the acquisition on employee incentives, favourability of new employment terms offered by Block to Afterpay staff, and managing termination of employment of senior executive roles.
  • Financial Services Group: Provides ongoing advice and strategic direction to the management group on matters relating to workforce management and downsizing. Regularly provides advice and guidance on misconduct and discrimination claims, as well as assisting with managing exit strategies for senior management, drafting of executive and employment contracts, and terminations.
  • Large ASX-listed company: Advised on complex and strategic industrial relations matters surrounding a mass redundancy. Managed all stakeholder consultation and communication including training managers how to adequately deal with consultation periods, drafting a suite of termination documents, preparing scripts for meetings, and considering impact of IR agreements on proposed terminations.
  • Workplace Transformation: Regularly provides legal support to the HR function during times of workplace transformation, particularly for large scale redundancies and assisting with exit strategies for executive terminations to minimise litigation risk.
  • Cynthia adopts a trauma-informed approach to managing responses to allegations of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and other serious misconduct. She is able to get to the heart of the issue quickly and prepares sound, cogent reports upon which clients can rely when implementing performance management outcomes. Recent investigations include:
    • Investigated sensitive sexual harassment allegations against a high-profile Managing Director of a multinational corporation. Allegations included inappropriate behaviour at an external company event with an impaired employee.
    • Investigated Senior Executive with respect to 19 sexual harassment and discriminatory conduct allegations from seven complainants based in Australia, Canada, America and the Philippines. Cynthia was commended for her approach in ensuring witnesses felt at ease so that full particulars were freely provided. The business was able to rely on sound findings to proceed with termination of the Senior Executive after allegations were substantiated.
    • Investigated a whistleblowing complaint against a General Counsel for a multinational company relating to allegations of a systemic pattern of bullying behaviours over years within a culture that was reluctant to raise allegations for fear of retaliation. Cynthia provided sound findings which enabled the company to take appropriate action and identified organisational issues around poor culture that had enabled the conduct to continue without repercussion.
    • Investigated an alleged sexual assault by a manager with an impaired employee in tandem with the police investigation.
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