Large payout in recent bullying case for employee returning from maternity leave Last Updated: This case demonstrates how important it is for employers to proactively respond to all workplace bullying complaints and have policies and procedures in place to manage workplace conduct. A new manager at Sussan's Cairns Central retail fashion store was found to have bullied an employee returning from maternity leave. The alleged bullying conduct included:
Malicious teasing and making someone the brunt of pranks or practical jokes Excluding or isolating employees Giving employees impossible assignments, consistent heavy workloads and unrealistic timeframes Assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job Deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective work performance Consistent non-constructive criticism of work product Psychological harassment such as the "silent treatment", gossip and rumours Favouritism and unfair allocation of tasks.
Bullying and performance management Confusion about what constitutes bullying most often arises in the context of performance supervision and management, disciplinary action and allocations of work.
Reasonable work allocation in compliance with systems and the requirements of a worker's role, performance supervision and management are not bullying, nor are the decisions to counsel or warn a worker when performance issues arise.
There is a rising incidence of employees raising bullying and harassment complaints in response to performance management, so it is important to distinguish the differences between bullying behaviours and what is termed as "reasonable administrative action" or even reasonable disciplinary and management action.
Case example Recently, an employee with an existing stress-related depressive disorder had her case upheld on appeal to the Federal Court.
The issue before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal had been whether the employer was liable for the employee's psychological condition pursuant to section 14 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Cth Act.
Her illness was diagnosed after she received a series of promotions. She took leave and on returning from leave found that her job had been restructured and that her workload had, in her estimation, tripled.
Following a group meeting, her manager called her aside for a one-onone impromptu meeting during which the manager accused her of having a "negative attitude" and said: The appeal first considered the correct interpretation of 'reasonable administrative action taken in a reasonable manner in respect of the employee's employment' as that phrase appears in section 5A 1 of the Act.
The Federal Court confirmed the Tribunal's finding that the employer's action was unreasonable due to the "tension-charged" nature of the oneon-one meeting and coupled with the failure to give the employee any notice of the serious issues being raised.
It held that the impromptu meeting was causative of an aggravation of the Respondent's pre-existing condition.
The characteristics of cyber bullying are the same as bullying but the medium is through the internet, mobile phone and most often social networking sites. The intent must be to cause emotional distress and there must be no legitimate purpose to the communication.
Easy access to digital devices has the effect of allowing bullying to extend beyond the workplace and into home life, sometimes with devastating effect. Victoria has responded to workplace bullying introducing legislation amending the Crimes Act Vic with what is colloquially known as "Brodie's Law".
This followed the death of 19 year old Brodie Panlock who was severely bullied at work. A coronial inquest found that this treatment directly resulted in her death.
The enactment widens the definition of the existing crime of stalking to workplace and cyber bullying. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Examples of cyber bullying behaviour include: Harassment Unlawful workplace harassment is any form of behaviour that is unwelcome and targets a person because of a ground prohibited by discrimination legislation such as sex, race, disability and age.
Behaviour amounts to harassment if a reasonable person in the position of the perpetrator would have anticipated that the person at whom the behaviour is directed, would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by that behaviour.
Under discrimination legislation, sexual harassment is specifically defined to encompass an "anticipation of the possibility" that the sexual conduct would cause offence to the person.
Workplace harassment and sexual harassment can be a one off incident or a pattern of behaviour. The intention of the person is not a relevant consideration and the person claiming to have been harassed does not have to say "no" to the conduct to prove that it was unwelcome.
It may include non-verbal behaviour: Lessons from the case law One of the big mistakes employers make, is mixing personal comments or opinions with performance review or attacking the person instead of their performance.
Focus your feedback on the requirements of the role and support underperformance with objective data related to duties consistent with the role. That is not to say that particular personality styles and maintaining personable relationships is never core to success in certain positions.
In client service industries, the ability of an employee to maintain relationships is crucial to success. In another recent case an employee's failure to build and sustain relationships with internal and external service providers and two internal managers was found to be a valid reason for dismissal of an employee.
The employee made a bullying claim after the problems with relationships with two managers but this was not upheld and the reason for termination that he was not a good company fit was accepted by the court. Pay attention to your oral and written communications and consider the impact of the email and mobile messages that you send.
For example, avoid adopting an impolite or sarcastic tone or sending a barrage of emails or texts raising performance issues. If you usually address workers a certain way, maintain the same level of communication when discussing performance issues.
Don't let your frustration with an employee's failure to perform to expectations translate into unfair treatment of that person. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.Sexuality under the ICCPR.
Human Rights Committee Communication No. / (Toonen v Australia) In , Nicholas Toonen, a homosexual man from Tasmania, sent a communication to the Human Rights Committee.
WISE workshop designed a quick guide for those faced with the challenge of responding to an allegation of bullying. Comcare works in partnership with employees and employers to reduce the human and financial costs of workplace injuries and disease in the Commonwealth jurisdiction.
Provides sources of information to support a business case for workplace health programming. Making the Business Case - Workplace Strategies for Mental Health Source: Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.
According to research by the University of South Australia, when compared to 31 European countries, Australia ranked sixth highest for workplace bullying, with seven per cent of Australian workers.
May 15, · In the recent case of Keegan v Sussan Corporation (Aust.) Pty Ltd 1 an employee was awarded just under $, in damages after being bullied for 11 days. This case demonstrates how important it is for employers to proactively respond to all workplace bullying complaints and .