A Westpac employee has won compensation from the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) over workplace bullying.
Within the first few weeks of her employment, Abby Holt began receiving ridicule and name-calling over her light weight. As reported in The Herald Sun, insults were slung at Holt by her team leader and implementation manager, including ‘scabs’ and ‘coke puppet’. The ridicule also included insults about her clothing being ‘cheap’.
In addition, Holt’s team leader made false claims that written and verbal complaints had been made about the employee.
Queensland’s Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice (2004) defines workplace harassment as repeated, unsolicited behaviour towards a person who considers it offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening. It further adds examples may include constant ridicule, as well as persistent and unjustified criticisms about irrelevant matters.
When Holt informed her team leader’s superior of the harassment, he told her there was no longer a place for her in the business, later escorting her from the premises. Daniel O’Conor, deputy president of QIRC, stated this was not a responsible way to handle a claim of bullying and harassment.
The case again brings to light the detrimental impact workplace bullying can have on employees. HR managers must ensure they investigate and appropriately deal with all cases of workplace bullying and harassment, and ensure other managers and leaders are acting in a professional manner.