'Bullied' manager wins over $130k against former employer

ERA rules manager was bullied, constructively dismissed

'Bullied' manager wins over $130k against former employer

A former manager at Magnum Hire Limited has won over $135,000 after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) sided with him in his bullying case against his former employer.

Dave Parker, who was a manager at the organisation for around 12 years, accused Magnum director Liam Field of bullying and psychologically abusive treatment.

According to Parker, his former boss subjected him to excessive and unprovoked personal criticism and verbal abuse, threatening his job security both overtly and impliedly, as well as publicly humiliating and denigrating him as incompetent.

Parker also accused his former employer of deliberately continuing or escalating abusive behaviour when he showed signs of vulnerability.

Field also allegedly engaged in manipulative and psychologically abusive behaviour such as denial, obfuscation, and deploying false flattery and false reassurances.

Parker's case eventually got worse when he got sick in mid-2021, where he alleged that he was unlawfully suspended despite medical advice that he was quite capable to work from home.

Their relationship further deteriorated until Parker decided to resign in December 2021, and then raised the matter to the ERA.

ERA confirms bullying

The ERA ruled in favour of Parker in the case, confirming that he was bullied and that he was constructively dismissed by his former employer.

"The behaviour was clearly bullying behaviour, and Magnum was clearly aware of it as it was perpetrated by its director and owner," the ERA decision read.

Bullying alone does not give rise to a personal grievance, but the ERA said it can be the basis to an argument that the employer failed to provide a safe workplace.

"Mangum did not do anything to protect Mr. Parker from this harm which was foreseeable. Ultimately, Magnum failed to provide Mr. Parker with a safe workplace," the ERA ruled.

In Parker's suspension, the ERA ruled that Magnum did not follow any process before making its decision, such as consulting the manager or offering alternatives.

"The suspension from work was clearly disadvantageous to Mr. Parker, and in all the circumstances were not the actions a fair and reasonable employer could have taken in all the relevant circumstances at the time," the authority said.

Constructive dismissal

The ERA further ruled that Parker was constructively dismissed, noting that it "reasonably foreseeable" that Parker would resign after the bullying and unlawful suspension.

"The Authority is satisfied Magnum's actions constituted a breach or breaches of duty sufficient to cause Mr. Parker to resign. He was constructively dismissed," the ERA said.

Magnum is now ordered to pay Parker compensation of $50,000 for the bullying disadvantage grievance, $5,000 for the suspension grievance, and $50,000 for the constructive dismissal.

The organisation is also ordered to pay lost wages worth $30,000, $2,463.68 of lost income, as well as a penalty of $1,000.

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