Bullying: CF and NW v Company A and ED [2015] FWC 5272

The Fair Work Commission has found that two employees of a small real estate business were being bullied by the Property Manager, with the Commission making orders that the employees have no contact whatsoever and requiring the business to implement an anti-bullying policy. 

Ms C.F and Ms N.W both made applications to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop bullying against Ms E.D. The parties were, and are, all employees of a relatively small real estate business. The applicants allege that they were being bullied by Ms E.D who is a Property Manager employed by the business.

The Applicants alleged that Ms E.D. had engaged in bullying conduct which included:

  • Belittling conduct;
  • Swearing, yelling and use of otherwise inappropriate language;
  • Daily interfering and undermining the applicants’ work;
  • Physical intimidation and “slamming” of objects on the applicants’ desks;
  • Attempts to incite the applicants to victimise other staff members; and
  • Threats of violence.

Both Ms C.F and Ms N.W had made workers compensation claims and had been absent from work undergoing medical treatment as a result of Ms E.D’s alleged conduct.

The employer had undertaken an informal investigation in relation to the complaints and attempted a workplace mediation. Following this, Ms E.D resigned her employment with the employer but took up an equivalent position with a related company. Whilst the related company operated from a different location, there was a very real potential that the two businesses and the employees would have to interact with one another. Further, Ms E.D had also been seconded back to the employer to assist its business on a short term basis.

Decision

During the proceedings, the employer conceded that Ms E.D’s conduct amounted to repeated unreasonable behaviour towards the applicants. It also acknowledged that such behaviour may have created a risk to the applicants’ health and safety. As a result of this concession, the Fair Work Commission was not required to make further findings regarding Ms E.D’s behaviour.

The Fair Work Commission found that bullying conduct had taken place and that there was a risk that the applicants would continue to be bullied at work.

The Commission made a number of orders, with the consent of the parties, including:

  1. The applicants and Ms E.D do not approach each other or attend the other business premises;
  2. Ms E.D could continue her secondment, but only until the applicants were fit to resume work;
  3. The employer must establish appropriate return to work arrangements in consultation with relevant medical advisors;
  4. The employer must establish and implement appropriate anti-bullying policies, procedures and training, which includes confirming appropriate future conduct and behaviour.

The order will remain in force for a period of 24 months. 

Read the full decision here

* PCC Lawyers are a team of employment practitioners based in Sydney, with many years of combined knowledge and experience in workplace law, industrial relations, workplace investigations and training.  They provide a high standard of excellence and an exceptional level of personal service to a variety of clients in the Sydney metropolitan area, Central Coast, regional NSW and interstate. 

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