Jennifer Patterson
Partner, Sydney
I am an experienced employment, industrial relations, discrimination and safety lawyer – working extensively in the education and media and entertainment sectors, and also with significant experience in aviation, construction, retail, technology, sport and the not for profit sector.

My focus is on supporting and delivering for clients – whether it is in a crisis, in helping develop and implement strategy, in supporting on operational issues or in cleaning up a mess – by giving practical, down to earth and solutions focussed advice. 

As well as my general workplace relations and safety practice, I have a specialist practice in discrimination law (including in employment, education, services and access to premises).  I also provide specialist education advice – across all aspects of the education sector including governance, regulatory and compliance, enrolment matters, parent issues and child protection.

Career Highlights

  • Providing a holistic approach to each client's employment related needs by working with them to achieve integrated and consistent contracts of employment, policies, industrial instruments and training and providing strategic advice as well as a sounding board, safety net and extra pair of hands as they manage their strategic and day to day challenges.
  • Acting for the Association of Independent Schools in NSW for more than 20 years. I sit on their Employee Relations Committee, was the lead adviser to the AISNSW on industrial strategy for its member schools following the two most recent and substantial legislative reforms and have advised on all subsequent negotiations for the multi enterprise agreements in the sector. A particular highlight was assisting in the development of a new model for remuneration and progression based on achievement of professional standards.
  • Acting for the major commercial broadcasters (Seven, Nine and Ten) and publishing organisations (News, Bauer and Pacific magazines) in the Award Modernisation process and Award Review process in the Fair Work Commission.
  • Advising the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the negotiation of its enterprise agreements since 2010. Over a series of agreements, the ABC has achieved important changes without industrial action.
  • Assisting clients with highly sensitive discrimination, harassment, bullying and general grievance matters – often involving senior staff and reputation critical issues – and keeping them about of the media.
  • More than 20 years of advising the Qantas Group about the application of the disability discrimination regime in developing services for passengers requiring specific assistance, including developing Qantas and Jetstar's Disability Access Facilitation Plans, service dog policy and mobility assistance policy, as well as dealing with passenger complaints and successfully defending Jetstar's two wheelchair policy.
  • Advising and supporting clients in relation to work health and safety to ensure compliance, prevent or reduce the risk of incidents occurring and respond immediately and proactively if an incident does occur. I have developed a deep expertise in WHS in the construction and aviation industry, advising and acting for Frasers Property Group, Qantas and Jetstar including in relation to contractor management; training and advising on preventative measures to avoid incidents; conducting internal investigatons; and dealing with investigations by regulators. I have acted for a number of large employers in relation to industrial accidents resulting in deaths and serious injury, including representation in prosecutions and coronial inquests. I am currently acting for the defendants in the first Category 1 WHS prosecutions in NSW. I am also passionate about assisting Boards and officers to understand and meet their due diligence obligations by conducting training and advising about and developing the tools required to allow officers to fulfil those obligations.
  • Delivering training to Boards, management and staff to provide practical guidance on employment law, grievance investigation, appropriate workplace behaviour (including discrimination, harassment and bullying), and work health and safety.