05 February 2009

HR failing in Duty Of Care + Management failure in Duty of Care = Company fails Duty of Care

It is February Freeze in the Northern Hemisphere, whilst heating up for the usual February Frazzle in the south. Though this picture reminds me of the lengths one has to go to in alerting management and Human Resources to bullying, harassment and mobbing, all which violate OHS laws and company obligations.

It ceases to surprise me the complacent attitude and inept ability to immediately act by 'at least' putting into action their own company procedures - off the back of their own company policies that they themselves are meant to enforce.

Following on from the infamous Nikolich v Goldman Sachs J B Were case, though it seems there are still employers out there continuing to violate workplace agreements, company policies, floundering in failed process.

Seemling HR, Management and companies continue to show a frosty shoulder to it's valued employees.

The following are two recent cases (one settled, one in infancy) in Victoria and Queensland that demonstrate ongoing ineffectiveness of Management and HR to deal with Bullying and Harassment, and failing to protect the victim (aka Target), to the point that Workers Compensation and legal action is taken by the victim for respite and justice. All which can be avoided by understanding nature of Harassment and Bullying, and immediately taking action to nip it in the bud, and show clear protection and support to the victim.


Compo payout for former Hepburn Shire Council receptionist

A FORMER Hepburn Shire Council receptionist who alleged she was the victim of workplace bullying will receive compensation including medical costs.

The compensation for an unknown amount follows a hearing in Ballarat Magistrates Court last December 2008.

In the case's recently published judgment Magistrate Brian Wright said he believed there had been a basis for criticism of Ms Haintz's work performance but the issues did not appear to have been properly handled by the shire.

"It is not for me to formally determine whether she was in fact harassed or bullied," he said.

The court had heard Ms Haintz had worked for the shire for 18 years, but experienced problems when she transferred jobs in 2006.

Ms Haintz said she was harassed and bullied by her two supervisors Katherine Atwood and Linda Campbell.

Mr Wright said Ms Haintz was issued with a "performance expectation" letter in November 24, 2006 and in response she lodged a grievance notice which the shire did not acknowledge.

"For whatever reason, the issues as to Ms Haintz's work performance and the grievance issue was allowed to fester for six months until about June 2007," Mr Wright said.

During 2007, Ms Haintz became distressed, feared going to work and would vomit with anxiety every morning, the court heard.

"Of all the evidence I have no doubt that Ms Haintz did suffer a work-related injury, being anxiety and depression, and that injury arose out of or in the course of her employment with the shire," Mr Wright said.

Mr Wright ordered that Ms Haintz be entitled to weekly payments at the "no current work" capacity rate from June 20 2007 to February 1 2008 and payments at the current work capacity thereafter.


Workmates put drugs in my car $345,000 claim for making work life 'hell'

FORMER manager Rochelle Yvette Jupp is suing Rockhampton Regional Council for $345,000, claiming a small number of staff went out of their way to make her life hell.

Her allegations include, among other things, someone conspiring to plant drugs in her vehicle for the authorities to find.

The former ranger services manager at Fitzroy Shire Council lodged a claim last week in the Supreme Court, Rockhampton, alleging her employer failed to protect her against the abuse and provide a safe workplace.

Outlining the level of degradation, she claims in the court document that between March 2005 and February 2006, she was subjected from fellow employees to open hostility, disrespect, disregard of her leadership, denigration to members of the public, false late-night call-outs, a conspiracy to sabotage a presentation she was to make, and a conspiracy to place illegal drugs in her vehicle that would be discovered by authorities.

She also said workers stared at her in an intimidating manner in a way she perceived as sexually harassing.

These all combined to cause her to suffer an adjustment disorder and anxiety which developed into a major depressive disorder.

Ms Jupp claims council ignored her pleas for help.

They failed “to provide any adequate response to complaints by the plaintiff from time to time of difficulties encountered in carrying out her duties”.

It was also alleged council failed on her appointment to devise and implement an adequate management change program when it should have been known staff were unprepared to support her.

Her claim says she has been unable to return to her former employer as a manager or continue in her chosen field of employment, in which she holds university level qualifications.

The $345,428.65 claim includes $200,000 for future economic loss and $60,000 for pain and suffering.


After reading these stories what strikes you is the blantant obvious nature of the complaint, and in some instances you can read between the lines to see it is clear sometimes the situations and unacceptable behaviour is condoned, encouraged and left to fester.

As they say, it is easier to get rid of the victim than the psychopath. Let's all close our eyes and hope the victim goes away. This is unacceptable, and it is evident that victims are becoming stronger to take their cases to court, to excersice their rights and deal with it outside airing dirty laundry in public, presenting toxic workplaces for what they are,. finding logic, reason and most of all empathy from a Judge!

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