Sophie Orton

Clayton Utz
Special Counsel Sydney

Sophie is a highly skilled litigator in the field of employment and industrial relations, Sophie has served public and private sector clients for over 12 years.

She is well-known for providing a dynamic, practical and comprehensive approach to employment litigation with a view to minimising industrial unrest and avoiding future legal and reputational risks.

Sophie's advocacy experience in State and Federal Courts and Tribunals is extensive. She frequently appears on behalf of major corporate clients in relation to:

  • State and Federal discrimination complaints
  • large-scale industrial disputes and protected/unprotected industrial action
  • modern award and enterprise agreement interpretation disputes
  • contract determination reviews and owner-driver disputes
  • strategic workforce planning including in relation to mergers, acquisitions and takeovers
  • unfair dismissal, public sector disciplinary appeal and general protections claims
  • State and Federal underpayment claims and proactive audits
  • navigating Australia's child labour laws and associated prosecutions
  • regulatory investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman, State safety bodies and State wage inspectors
Notable Work
  • Apple: Led negotiations and developed a complex industrial relations strategy for Apple on their 2023 enterprise agreement covering over 4,000 workers.
  • Ausgrid: Won an appeal against the electrical union who raised a dispute under the enterprise agreement with the Fair Work Commission. The appeal ultimately restored the position that employers have a prima facie right to manage and discipline their staff.
  • Woolworths: Interpretation and Federal Court litigation against the SDA regarding the Supermarkets enterprise agreement which covers over 150,000 employees.
  • Toyota: Assistance with right of entry disputes against the AMWU.
  • Nick Scali: Industrial relations and enterprise agreement advice post acquisition of Plush sofas.
  • IVE: Assisted in managing the industrial impacts of inheriting a transferred enterprise agreement, post divestment of the Ovato business to IVE.
  • Australian Rail Track Corporation: Successful approval of the 2023 enterprise agreement despite CEPU objection at the Fair Work Commission.
  • Fair Work Ombudsman: Numerous prosecutions against the CFMMEU for contraventions of the Building Code and Fair Work Act on project sites resulting in losses to businesses and productivity. Prosecutions resulted in significant fines and penalties for the CFMMEU and their industrial officials.
  • Department of Education NSW: Successfully defended an unfair dismissal claim from a NSW teacher in the Industrial Relations Commission. Confirming the position that a child's quality of school education should not be compromised by underperforming teachers.
  • Corrective Services NSW: Representation on unfair dismissal and public sector disciplinary appeal cases brought by employees.
  • Metromix: Advised on contract determination and contract carrier matters.
  • Covid-19: Provided WHS risk assessments, policy, lawful direction and disciplinary action advice to Facebook (now Meta), DHL, TK Maxx, Volvo and Woolworths throughout the pandemic.
  • Executive exits and terminations: Assists in the exit of directors and shareholders from Australian businesses and partnerships, advises on mergers and earn-outs, conducts thorough workplace investigations and  forensic data analysis when necessary in relation to fraud and misconduct at an executive level.
  • Pro Bono: Blue Mountains Women's Health and Resource Centre, Dress for Success, Gadigal Information Service, KidsXpress, Paralympics and the Wayside Chapel.
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