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Supreme Court awards $1.3 million in employer negligence case

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HC Online | 19 Jan 2016, 10:34 AM Agree 0
Ignoring an employee’s cries for help could result in a hefty negligence claim, as one Melbourne construction company found out.
  • Bernie Althofer | 19 Jan 2016, 02:17 PM Agree 0
    It never ceases to amaze me to learn of situations where alleged bullies are apparently tolerated to the point of acceptance. It is even more alarming that whilst organisations may sound policies and procedures in place, employees are actively discouraged from lodging a formal complaint about the behaviour or the person. It seems that in some situations, those being targeted take a view that the alleged bully is 'protected' by 'someone' and that to take action against that person would be a career limiting move.

    It seems that whilst there is a reluctance on the part of some managers, supervisors and even co-workers to address bullying behaviours, there is also a perception that 'bullying is just part of what happens'. Unfortunately, as this case and no doubt others have found, the longer initial counterproductive behaviours are left unaddressed, the more damaging the fallout.

    As Courts, Commissions and Tribunals make decisions and findings that result in the 'million dollar payouts', managers and workers may also find themselves being drawn into line and be on the end of adverse comments. When 'million dollar payouts' or even any other Court ordered award is made, the money has to come from somewhere as organisations implement strategies to recover those losses.

    Perhaps organisations may need to consider placing a time frame in which incidents or allegations need to be investiged e.g. two weeks for preliminary investigations, or more depending on the nature and circumstances involved. There may also come a time when performance management and appraisal systems are actually used to hold people accountable for the way in which counterproductive behaviours are prevented, detected, reported and resolved in a workplace.

    How many organisations have pockets deep enough to afford not only the amount awarded by a Court, but also the damage to individual and organisational reputations?
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