Bullying: Harley v Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FWA 62

The applicant was employed as a Business Development Executive at Aristocrat Technologies Pty Ltd (Aristocrat).  He had resigned after receiving a show cause letter from Aristocrat who claimed that he was underperforming on sales targets and that there had been complaints about him from customers.

The applicant brought an unfair dismissal claim, claiming that he had been forced to resign as a result of a course of bullying and harassment engaged in by Aristocrat’s State Manager.

Commissioner Deegan agreed that the applicant had been constructively dismissed and that the dismissal was unfair. He found that he had performed as well , or better , than most of the other business development executives during a difficult financial period and that he had been treated badly by the State Manager.

Significantly, he was highly critical of Aristocrat for failing to respond to the applicant’s harassment claims made against the State manager prior to his dismissal. He found that the human resources manager was “either uninterested in investigating the complaints properly or had no idea how to conduct such an investigation”.

This case is a strong reminder to human resources managers to deal with employee complaints seriously and to conduct thorough investigations into complaints .

The State manager was awarded 8 months salary in lieu of reinstatement.