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06 Feb 2014

Work joke cover up backfires

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A practical joke gone wrong and a failed cover-up to protect safety bonuses has led to the Victorian County Court granting an injured worker leave to seek damages for a severe mental disturbance.

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Published in National Safety magazine, November-December 2013.

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06 Feb 2014

The chances of..

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How willing and able are WHS graduates to manage bullying, harassment and workload risks?

It’s a sign of the times and a dirty little secret: For every workplace bullying or harassment case that hits the headlines, hundreds more are hammered out behind closed doors and hushed up with confidential cash settlements.

Such practices protect bullies and preserve the organisational status quo.

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Published in National Safety magazine, August-September 2013.

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06 Feb 2014

Shine a light

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Seek out and act on the new bullying laws and practice, or risk finding yourself in legal and cultural hot water.

Four significant federal government developments in 2013 relate to workplace bullying. All emphasise the need for employers to have in place processes that enable rapid response to instances of workplace bullying, and all implicitly acknowledge that in 2013 the legal and regulatory framework for responding to workplace bullying was inefficient and insufficiently timely to protect the health and safety of workers entirely.

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Published in National Safety magazine, August-September 2013.

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The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) bullying jurisdiction will be open for business on 1 January.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin workers employed in constitutionally covered businesses will be able to apply directly to the FWC for an order to stop bullying.

The FWC must start dealing with a complaint within 14 days of an application being made.

It can make any order it considers appropriate to stop the bullying, apart from ordering the payment of compensation.

“Each application will be assessed at an early stage to decide whether it falls within our jurisdiction, the parties involved, the nature of the alleged bullying and how the application should be dealt with,” FWC president, The Honourable Justice Iain Ross, said.

Commissioner Peter Hampton is heading up the FWC’s anti-bullying panel.

The bullying complaint mechanism may change in the future, as the Coalition went to the Federal Election with a promise to change the laws so workers first have to seek help and advice from a regulator.

For more details, visit anti-bullying at the FWC.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

An accountant has been awarded $476,163 after the Federal Court determined she had been sexually harassed and assaulted by a contractor.

The case against the contractor was heard in December 2012 and the judgement handed down last week.

On the balance of probabilities, the court found the accountant had been subjected to sexual harassment and assault in May 2009, and the contractor had breached s 28B of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

The court determined the contractor had behaved in a sexually suggestive manner toward the accountant at work, touched her inappropriately while she was at her desk, pressured her to attend a pub with him for a drink, proposed she have an affair with him, sexually propositioned her, tried to kiss her, had sexual intercourse with her and sexually assaulted her.

The court described the contractor as “an arrogant individual with little or no regard for the truth”.

The accountant told the court she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric illness and is unable to work as a result of the incidents.

The court ordered the contractor to pay the accountant $476,163 plus interest. However, to avoid “double recovery”, any lump sum settlements the accountant had reached with her employer, the contractor’s recruitment and labour hire firm or others had to be deducted from this amount.

The accountant also made a formal complaint to police in June 2009, alleging she had been raped on 15 May 2009.

For more details, visit the court case.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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