28 June 2013

Bullied employee reinstated

VICTIM: Wayne Butler said he would return to work to ensure  
A SENIOR WorkCover employee ‘‘bullied’’ out of the state government agency has been handed his job back by a Newcastle court.

WorkCover was told it engaged in “scurrilous” and “malicious” behaviour in moving to “persecute” computer contract manager Wayne Butler “out of the organisation”.
Mr Butler, of Saratoga, said on Sunday night that the ordeal had taken an enormous toll on him and his family, but he would be going back to work and seeking changes to the way WorkCover operated to ensure ‘‘this can never happen again to any other member of staff’’.
He was also seeking a formal apology from WorkCover.
In a 35-page verdict delivered on Friday, deputy president Rod Harrison of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission said WorkCover’s conduct  was ‘‘shabby and disgraceful’’ and had all ‘‘the characterisation of institutional bullying’’.
WorkCover had accused Mr Butler of ‘‘having an improper relationship with a sex worker’’ when ‘‘a simple inquiry ... would have revealed’’ the truth.
Mr Butler was a spokesman for the Shared Parenting Council of Australia and the woman, who happened to work in a brothel, had phoned him for advice about child custody.
In another incident, Mr Butler was asked by  superior staff to obtain some Microsoft T-shirts at the time of a computer system upgrade.
He was later accused of misusing his position for doing so.
Emailing work home to himself at night led to a charge of ‘‘failing to maintain information security’’.
Accepting a single restaurant lunch generated a charge of ‘‘failing to report and record gifts’’ although the court decision said there was ‘‘no evidence whatsoever to suggest’’ it would ‘‘compromise Mr Butler or WorkCover’’.
Mr Harrison said a six-volume report produced as part of Mr Butler’s dismissal proceedings was ‘‘fundamentally flawed’’ and ‘‘arrived at conclusions that were not supported by facts’’.
He said there was ‘‘no substance to any of the [eight] allegations made against Mr Butler’’, who was stood down in March 2012 and dismissed in November 2012 after 12 years of service.
Other allegations included misuse of a WorkCover mobile phone, failure to get permission to work with the Shared Parenting Council, a failure to keep ‘‘flexitime’’ sheets and proper records of working hours.
‘‘In many ways Mr Butler is served up as a scapegoat for systemic management failure and as a sacrifice to an application of policy and procedure in a draconian way which countenances no innocent explanation,’’ Mr Harrison wrote.
The Public Service Association backed Mr Butler and said it was backing a parliamentary inquiry into bullying in WorkCover.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said WorkCover was the organisation responsible for monitoring and countering bullying in other workplaces.
“When you realise that WorkCover is supposed to be policing these sorts of things across the workplace, and you see what was done to David, as uncovered in this judgment, it is absolutely beyond a doubt that an inquiry is needed,’’ Mr Shoebridge said.
WorkCover is under the portfolio of embattled NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce, who took a month’s stress leave last week after surviving opposition calls for him to be sacked.
A WorkCover spokesman said the government took ‘‘all allegations of workplace bullying seriously’’ and was reviewing Mr  Harrison’s decision.

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    JB 5 days ago
    Do those responsible for the bullying get to keep their jobs? Why?

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      Ned JB 5 days ago

        Maybe they're in a union.
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          Ex-Muswellbrook Ned 5 days ago

          Maybe they are the hand-picked sheep of the Minister. It is a simple matter to become a protected species if the Minister's office wants it so. Those sort of people do not belong to any union.
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          knowitall Ned 5 days ago

          what has the union have to do with this dispute. unions stick up for workers you fool and this behaviour would certainly not be tolerated by any union.

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      peter 5 days ago

      Good luck to Wayne Butler but the fact that this case went to a 35 page decision by deputy president Harrison means that all attempts at conciliation with WorkCover bosses were a failure. And their spokesman saying that they were reviewing Mr Butler's 'win' suggests they may appeal the case. They should accept that the bullying happened and apologise.

    • Ron Smith 5 days ago

      It appears the "bullies" are still employed. Your a gutsy guy mate good lick

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      Andrew james 6 days ago

      The NSW Govt needs to get WorkCover under control. It is startling that such poor workplace practices can be rife within our Govt body responsible for maintaining proper standards in work places throughout the State.

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        Ex-Muswellbrook Andrew james 5 days ago

        It is the same story right through State government agencies. Take your pick; there is a huge lottery for bullying, harassment, inappropriate sackings, records being tampered with etc etc.

        • Leanne Clark Ex-Muswellbrook 3 days ago

          Totally agreed. I am so glad he followed this through. It feels like a win for all. I also wonder why that EEO policy as well, nepotism is alive and well.

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      truth 5 days ago

      I think you need to read the full transcript of the IRC findings to fully appreciate what Wayne has been subjected to. Truly disgraceful and the worst case of bullying, by of all organisations - WorkCover. I wonder if the General Manager and his minion from People and Culture (lol) will be held accountable for the misery and distress Wayne was subjected to. I doubt it, after all they have their Minister to lean on. You know the one, drunk in Parliament and being investigated for travel expenses fraud. I hope Wayne takes this a whole lot further.

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      Insider 5 days ago

      Yet another case of Workcover NSW bullying, one of many. Staff have built website ridiculing the religious beliefs of other staff as well as naming their wifi devices (phone) after other staff member. For example "?? is a Sl@#" and management did nothing to protect the victims. Other than get rid of the them by paying them off to keep quiet and go away. A complete lack of management combined with corruption, jobs for the boys and low staff moral. The management must be replaced at Workcover NSW, starting with the CEO, who is completely unqualified and out of her depth. Sort this out Barry. Your government is better than this.

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      BAM 5 days ago

      WorkCover NSW has be cited on numerous occasions for its poor management practices, bullying behaviour and inappropriate recruitment practices, yet it still to this day continues.
      Why is it that the organisation that should be setting the example of professionalism when it comes to the management of people can not get it right? It is not difficult. The problem starts at the top
      Every criticism made by Mr Harrison is a true reflection of the management behaviours of many senior executives in WorkCover.

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      Jennifer (injured worker) 5 days ago

      This is the very reason that we need to bring Rosemary McKenzie-Fergsuon from South Australia back over here to tidy this mess up. Rosemary was in the Hunter Valley in May to speak with employers about how to regain control. Better though that O'Farrell bring her over so that he can hear for himself all the rot that she heard about the wrong doings and how injured workers are told to just suck it up because they are not worth anything.

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        Collin Jennifer (injured worker) 5 days ago

        Great idea Jennifer, I heard Rosemary speak, then had a coffee with her in Newcastle, it is amazing just how much Rosemary knows about how to regain control of the WorkCover system. No wonder the HSA touted her presence, I know from an employers point of view if we could afford to engage Rosemary we would do so.

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          Jennifer Collin 4 days ago

          Collin I am sure that the Hunter Safety Alliance will bring Rosemary back again and that next time her presence will be better advertised. Better still that O'Farrell brings her over to fix the mess we are all in. What surprises me is that no one in the media has picked up that there is a person who can resolve the pile of rubbish and that they are not beating a path to her door.

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      dumbasdogsh1t 5 days ago

      "WorkCover is under the portfolio of embattled NSW Finance Minister Greg
      Pearce, who took a month’s stress leave last week after surviving
      opposition calls for him to be sacked."
      So is Minister Pearce also a victim of bullying by the opposition and media, given the alcohol was at his place of employment, should his employer be doing more to protect his mental state. If I had an alcohol problem, my employer would be required to counsel me not sack me. Do we alter the rules because he is a pollie. The same call was made when Craig Thompson was being pursued by the Federal opposition.
      And well done to Mr Harrison.

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      Insider 5 days ago

      Yes they are all still there, have kept their jobs and most have been rewarded with promotions after the last restructure.

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      Bel 5 days ago

      Fantastic win. Great landmark case law now for NSW. Bullying is happening everywhere across the public service and its about time there was a win proving the disgusting manipulation of investigations conducted by the public service. There needs to be an enquiry into all NSW Public Service Departments/agencies regarding bullying. Good on Wayne for standing up and getting somewhere with this. You deserve a medal of honour.

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      Leke 5 days ago

      What has the Shared Parenting Council to do with Workcover? Seems like some individual has to be identified for initiating the bullying .

    14 June 2013

    Comment - Workplace bullying laws demean the victim

    Bullying at work in the office
    Keep workplace laws for the real bullies. Source: news.com.au
    SOME of Safe Work Australia’s new workplace laws are threatening to take a good fight in the wrong direction
    I'm referring specifically to the rule which seeks to reprimand employers for assigning tasks their employees might consider 'below their skill level'.

    Bullying is not just the stuff we don't like about work.  Most people are asked to take on a task they don't really enjoy, or one which might not be part of their job description, every now and then. It's called delegating for the sake of the greater good – just get it done and move on.

    Genuine workplace bullying is emotional abuse - just ask anyone who has experienced it.  They will tell you that the worst response another person can have to their situation is to belittle the personal toll that experience has on their self-esteem, daily routine and ability to function outside of work.

    And this experience rarely has anything whatsoever to do with how much a person enjoys their daily tasks.

    Bullying is snooping, stealing, teasing and mocking. It's insidious and underhanded behaviour which, as Safe Work Australia's other new provisions make clear, has begun to seep outside the edges of the workplace to social media sites and internet chat rooms.

    So let's keep things in perspective.

    Effective Workplace laws should protect those employees most under threat. It's not about satisfying everyone with a bee in their bonnet about being sent to use the photocopier.

    11 June 2013

    Bullied at work for being too thin - Worker's Compensation Case Australia

    AFTER Abby Holt complained of bullying by her team leader at Westpac's Queensland head office, a senior manager escorted her off the premises without even investigating, a Commissioner has found.

    VICTIM WINS: Abby Holt has won an appeal against Q-Comp in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission over bullying. Picture: Stuart Quinn

    Ms Holt, 31, now has won an appeal against Q-Comp in Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, allowing her to receive worker's compensation.
    Shine Lawyers is considering a claim against Westpac for Ms Holt, who suffered an adjustment order and anxiety and has been looking for work since leaving the bank in 2011.
    Ms Holt told the Commission the name-calling about her weight and appearance began within weeks of her starting as implementation manager with team leader Emily Lowson in September 2010.
    QIRC deputy president Daniel O'Connor said being called "Scabby Abby'' and "Scabs'' by Ms Lowson and implementation manager Kayla Chiesa was offensive and likely to humiliate Ms Holt.
    Ms Holt, who weighed about 53 kilograms, said Ms Lowson called her a ``Breatharian'' because she did not eat much while working in the Queen St, Brisbane head office.
    The Commissioner found Ms Holt was referred to as a ``Coke puppet'' by one of the women, ``because her head was too big for her body'' and the women even ``Youtubed'' the Diet Coke ad to show her.
    Ms Lowson, who also commented about her ``cheap'' clothing, falsely claimed there had been written and verbal complaints about Ms Holt in March, 2011.
    When Ms Holt complained to Ms Lowson's superior Damian Cramer about the team leader bullying her he told her that her name had been ``tarnished'' within the business, the Commissioner said.
    Mr O'Connor found that Mr Cramer told Ms Holt there was no room left in the business for her and she needed to have a good think about her future at Westpac.
    He said later on Mr Cramer took the ``extraordinary step'' of asking her to leave the building and escorting her from the premises.
    Mr O'Connor said it was ``akin to a summary dismissal'' rather than a reasonable response to an employee's complaint of bullying and harassment, which he did not investigate.
    Ms Holt, who now is hopeful of finding a new job, said: ``I went from a happy confident person to a girl who was insecure and always upset.
    ``I fought for justice and I feel so good now. I hope other people won't let this sort of bullying happen to them.''
    Ms Holt's lawyer Martha King said: ``The case is particularly disappointing, given the behaviour came from within such a renowned company.''