Employee compensated for $20K breast surgery

by Chloe Taylor08 Oct 2015
A public servant has won her legal battle to have her $20,000 breast reduction surgery covered by the Commonwealth government.

According to Fairfax Media, the Federal Court found that a previous tribunal’s decision to reject Roseanne Howes’ claim contained a “fundamental” error.

However, the court made no finding that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) public servant was treated with sarcasm, aggression and bias by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) when she first took her case to court.

Howes argued that her long working hours spent hunched over computers at work left her with serious neck and shoulder pain – which she had already been compensated for – and which made her put on weight which prompted the need for the surgery.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, Howes also alleged that prior to her neck and shoulder condition, her bust measurements had been several sizes smaller.

She said that the breast reduction surgery – plus a tummy tuck procedure she had undergone at the same time – had reduced her need for pain medication.

The Federal Court found that the original decision denying Howes compensation had ignored large amounts of evidence presented by Howes’ legal team.

“In my respectful view, there is little or no doubt that, inexplicably, the AAT failed to address the case as put by the applicant,” said Judge John Griffiths in his decision.

Justice Griffiths suggested that the AAT should consider Howes’ serious allegations against member Dr Marella Denovan when the case returned to the tribunal for consideration.

Howes was awarded costs by the court. 


  • by Jenny 9/10/2015 9:30:02 AM

    Unbelievable! Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Individuals are first and foremost responsible for their own health and wellbeing. Hopefully most now have additional support and encouragement from their employers through wellness programs and education.

    I have no doubt that the breast reduction and the tummy tuck made Ms Howes look and feel better, as well as reducing her need for medication for back/neck/shoulder pain. So would have a sensible diet and exercise.

    Many working people, male and female, make poor food choices at times due to lack of time, lack of energy, lack of healthy options if they work odd hours or in remote locations. We still 'own' those decisions and literally wear the consequences. Can we all get our employers to pay for our cosmetic surgery??

    These types of decisions makes tribunals look ridiculous and encourage frivolous, non work related claims.

  • by Simone 9/10/2015 1:44:55 PM

    Ridiculous! This case makes a joke of our legal system.
    Every individual makes lifestyle and health choices. The decision to eat in excess and refrain from exercise shouldn't entitle anyone to receiving cosmetic surgery compensation from your employer - and in this case from tax payers!
    This person had already been compensated for her workplace injuries - and rightly so - but any claim that she deservers cosmetic surgery suggests that employers are responsible for weight loss. Where is the onus on employees! What about a standing desk, exercise program or physiotherapy... all the responsibility of the employee (sometimes in conjunction with an employer).
    This sounds like the court supporting frivolous claims, ignorance and greed more than employee health and wellbeing.

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