Employee wins compensation after being sent to the “naughty corner”

by Janie Smith01 Jun 2014
An employee whose boss moved her desk away from the rest of her team after she complained about low morale in the workplace has won compensation.
 
The Canberra Times reported that the woman began working under her manager in 2008 when she was employed as a special investigator at the Child Support agency and the pair had a strained relationship.
 
The worker claimed that her boss had poor people skills, showed favouritism and was bad at giving positive feedback, the paper reported.
 
In October 2009, she told her boss that the team was suffering from low morale and after investigating, he decided to move her desk, which she saw as being put in the “naughty corner” and isolated from the rest of her team.

Almost a year later, the employee told her boss she planned to resign and the two of them had a hastily scheduled meeting about an old case she had failed to get rid of, despite his instructions to do so.

After the meeting, she filed a compensation claim, alleging it had triggered an adjustment disorder and anxiety, but federal government workplace insurer Comcare said it was not liable and the case went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
 
While both parties agreed the meeting triggered the psychiatric condition, they argued about whether the meeting constituted “reasonable administrative action taken in a reasonable manner in respect of the employee's employment” – which would allow Comcare to exclude the compensation claim.
 
Tribunal senior member Bernard McCabe found the meeting was not in connection with her employment, and wasn’t in line with reasonable actions such as appraisals, counselling and disciplinary actions and that Comcare was therefore liable.
 

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