Employee cries bullying after HR director refuses promotion

Hotel guest service agent said director's comments took toll on mental health

Employee cries bullying after HR director refuses promotion

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has upheld an HR director’s refusal to investigate an employee’s request to be promoted to supervisor after the latter said it amounted to bullying.

A stop-bullying order was sought by an employee from the commission. He was employed as a hotel guest service agent, citing that he had allegedly been the subject of bullying while being denied a promotion to supervisor. It was further alleged that he had been subjected to “degrading comments.”

The employee said he received offensive comments from the employer, like:

  • “Do you know how to do this or not on earth?”
  • “Nobody is going to teach you all the time.”
  • “You look worried and anxious, and your mind seems to be away all the time. Are you worried that you’re going to get fired again?”
  • “Just marry an old white guy, so you’ll get your residency here.”
  • “You don’t look happy today. Did you get dumped?”

He said that when he brought the grievance to the attention of the HR director, it was not dealt with properly and that the HR director failed to provide him with the supervisor promotion.

Bullying consequences

The employee said he experienced unfair treatment from management due to his ethnicity and sexual orientation, which had “profound implications for his health and wellbeing, leading to depression, anxiety … as well as reduced job performance.”

The employee argued that “he believes himself to be one of the employer’s best employees,” saying that due to the management’s behaviour, “his confidence has been impacted including his trust of those around him.”

He said he “used to dedicate himself to his work, however the alleged bullying behaviour has caused him to have a poorer work performance and productiveness, including a lack of purpose or desire to succeed.”

The employee argued that the employer “used [his] mental health condition, which [was] caused by workplace issues, against [him] as a reason of not giving [him] the position [he] fought for,” implying that his mental health state was the reason his promotion was refused.

The commission decision

Despite a few inappropriate remarks from the manager which the employee found upsetting, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled that it did not constitute bullying.

Regarding the promotion, the commission found the employee had been presented with a team leader position. Although not the same as a supervisory role, it was still a step up from his current role.

It also said that the HR director being a “firm supervisor” does not automatically classify as bullying. Moreover, the commission said that even though the director’s comments were not intended to cause distress, the FWC admitted that they could still damage the employee’s mental health.

Ultimately, the FWC determined that the HR director was not guilty of bullying the employee since she was just carrying out her responsibilities and duties.

Recent articles & video

From full-time to casual: 'Struggling' employer converts worker's role without consent

Woolworths fined $1.2-million for underpaying long service leave of employees

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

Ai Group renews call for 'cautions, moderate' approach to wage hike

Most Read Articles

CFMEU, official get higher penalties after unlawful conduct appeal

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

'Confused' worker tries to clarify ‘unclear’ dismissal date