Company sued after allegedly sacking employee over bullying complaint

by HCA24 Mar 2017
Mark Finney, a former senior executive at Brickworks, has launched legal action against the company after he made bullying complaints against the CEO which he claims led to his dismissal late last year.

Finney is alleging he was sacked by chief executive Lindsay Partridge to prevent him complaining to the company chairman about the CEO’s behaviour.

Finney is also arguing his dismissal was unlawful adverse action in breach of the Fair Work Act. He claims Partridge "treated managerial staff poorly, did not consult appropriately about changes he determined to make (and) did not listen to others in management".

HC contacted Brickworks for comment and a spokesperson said the company will be fighting the allegations.

"Mark Finney's employment was terminated with effect on 10 December 2016. Mr Finney was paid all his contractual entitlements as permitted by the Corporations Act,” said the spokesperson.
 
“Brickworks Limited strongly denies the allegations made by Mr Finney. They contain a number of factual inaccuracies.
 
“Brickworks Limited will vigorously defend these proceedings."
 
Finney, represented by Bartlett Workplace Lawyers, is seeking compensation for lost remuneration, lost reputation and the lost value of his 30,637 shares in Brickworks (now worth more than $400,000), according to The Australian Financial Review.

He claims that a couple of months after he was appointed group manager of operations, Partridge told him about a change in the reporting structure for a project he was working on.

Finney said he disagreed with the change and asked for a meeting with the CEO the following afternoon.

He claims he then spoke to Brickworks board chairman, Robert Millner, to complain about Partridge's management practices and incidents. Finney arugued Partridge's interaction with management staff was "bullying and disrespectful of them".

Finney claims the next morning he told sales group general manager, David Fitzharris, that he was going to speak to Millner about the way Partridge treated senior management and that the CEO's behaviour was "not an effective managerial approach".

Finney alleges that, in the hours between this incident and his afternoon meeting, Partridge heard about his intention to complain.

At the afternoon meeting, instead of discussing the reporting structure, Partridge allegedly told Finney that his employment was terminated and he would be placed on "garden leave" for the required six months' notice period.

Partridge allegedly said his decision followed a "review of your role", despite no previous indication of a review or warning that Finney's job was on the line.

Finney alleges that Partridge actually dismissed him because he exercised a workplace right by proposing to complain.

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