18 December 2008

LEGAL - Court upholds bully claim against Workplace

Court upholds bully claim against Hepburn Shire Council

A COURT has upheld a claim of bullying brought by a former Hepburn Shire Council receptionist against her employers.

Robyn Haintz, of Musk, will receive eight months of compensation at the salary she was employed at from June 20, 2007, to February 1, 2008, along with ongoing compensation from that time at a rate to be negotiated.

The council will also have to pay reasonable medical expenses and court costs.

The decision was handed down in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday after the case was heard in Ballarat Magistrates Court two weeks ago.

During the case, the court heard that Ms Haintz had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression arising from her work with the council and would continue to need medical treatment and counselling.

Her lawyer, John O'Brien, said the council had failed to take reasonable action and Ms Haintz's stress was exacerbated by an ignored grievance notice.

The council's organisational development manager Robert Knight admitted that nothing had been done about the notice in which Ms Haintz described how upset she was about a memo issued in November 2006.

The memo covered issues relating to Ms Haintz's duties including customer service and following procedures.

Mr Knight told the court that Ms Haintz's supervisor Linda Campbell was very caring and considerate while another woman, accountant Kathy Attwood, had a "very direct style".

Representing the council, lawyer Michael Richards told the court allegations of bullying and harassment were denied and described Ms Haintz's work as inadequate and leaving "a lot to be desired".

On Monday, Ms Haintz's father-in-law Allan McLeod said his daughter-in-law had been "treated badly" and "damaged by past mismanagement".

"It has been a 16-month fight to get the truth out of the council and we had to go to court to get that truth revealed," he said.

Mr McLeod said he hoped the outcome would prompt changes within the council to prevent further bullying.

"We will also be asking for a formal apology - Robyn would like that," he said.

Mr Knight said on Monday afternoon that he was unaware of the decision being handed down and "preferred to read it before I comment".

source: TheAdvocate

1 comment:

  1. Having recently finished up with Hepburn Shire Council I can state categorically that bullying is still rife within the organization. I say this with much regret and sorrow for the staff who remain that are genuinely great people and can only hope more do not succumb to its toxicity. I to have suffered from stress and anxiety as a result, and do know of others still employed that are gradually going under. A thourough investigation and total overhaul at all levels is required to bring a human touch back to this inhuman workplace.