08 January 2009

LEGAL - Police woman bullied and harassed sues

A case study in point in legal proceedings

December 2008

Supreme Court of Victoria - Court of Appeal ruling on settlement.

December 2007

De facto attack claim in police 'bullying' case

Opening the hearing in late August, her then lawyer Lex Lasry, QC, said that Ms Findlay's case was the story of a woman who had joined the force as a star recruit in 1986 and who, 13 years on, had had her career destroyed by a "regime of victimisation and harassment" carried out in a male-dominated section of the police force. He said the bullying had seemed to be prompted by three factors: the fact that she was a woman and a single parent; that she was senior to the men she was working with; and that she had given evidence against her ex-partner, a police officer, during a case brought after his alleged assault of her.

By June 1996, she had asked her boss for a transfer from Swan Hill because she didn't feel safe. Three years later she resigned.

What's been said

Claims already heard in court include allegations that:

■ Pauline Findlay's male colleagues said she was a "dyke", a "slut", "frigid' and "needing a good f---".
■ She was stalked, prank-called late at night, and persistently referred to as "loopy".
■ She was asked invasive questions about her private life.
■ When she was promoted above her male colleagues, they ignored her orders.
■ She was the subject of false rumours, including that she slept with a speed camera operator to pass a course.
■ Former colleague Senior Constable Ashley Cook told her "someone might get a .38 and blow you away"

September 2007

Woman 'drummed out' of police fights back
The case, estimated to run for four to six weeks, is unusual in that it is being heard in an open court. Most cases involving allegations of police force bullying have been resolved confidentially in the Equal Opportunity Commission.

August 2007

Ex-policewoman sues 'bullies'

A FORMER policewoman is suing the State Government and five former colleagues, claiming she was the victim of two years of bullying and harassment.

A court has heard that three colleagues launched a vendetta against Pauline Findlay after she was transferred to the Swan Hill traffic operations group in northern Victoria in August 1995.

One of them, Constable Ashley Cook, had told her: "I'd have had a nervous breakdown if you were treating me the way I've been treating you."

In another confrontation, Constable Cook allegedly warned Ms Findlay that "someone might get a .38 and blow you away".

Ms Findlay is also suing the area's superintendent, Dennis Henry, and chief inspector, Henry Button, for failing to take action to protect her despite repeated complaints.

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