WorkSafe OHS inspector hostile & inappropriate investigation into bullying

Yesterday we received a sickening story from a bullied worker who, rightly, complained to WorkSafe about the bullying experienced at her workplace. The WorkSafe OHS inspector’s own behaviour, however, was truly frightening, hostile and nothing short of bullying!

WorkSafe OHS inspector hostile & inappropriate investigation into bullying

I made a complaint to workSafe about bullying in my workplace. The workSafe OH and S inspector called me this morning to tell me that my employer’s behaviour towards me and other employees was “bad manners”, not bullying.

The workSafe definition of bullying is “repeated, unreasonable behaviour”.

I asked her to give me an example of bullying. She said that one example would be “if I was stapled to the wall, had solvents poured on me and was set on fire”.

Luckily I was not stapled to the wall or set on fire, but nonetheless my employer’s actions were repeated and unreasonable and well documented.

I am outraged and shocked.

Her attitude was quite hostile and she would not really listen to my explanations. She constantly interrupted me and talked over me. I asked her to please stop interrupting me and  attempted to give more information. I tried to explain that there were many other incidents that I had in writing and that the complaint form did not allow enough room for me to explain in detail about how these incidents related to me.

I will be sending her further information including email proof of further discrimination and threats of dismissal from my employer.

I just can not believe what is happening.

It seems that employers are allowed to behave in any way they like, despite the obvious detrimental effects on employee’s health.

So, anyone out there wanting to make a bullying complaint, BEWARE!!!

 

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1MA9G-2NC

 

 



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11 Responses to “WorkSafe OHS inspector hostile & inappropriate investigation into bullying”

  1. To quote from Dr Michael Cole’s (a whistleblower whose story can be read on his website) comment of yesterday – “Unfortunately the officials that act so badly don’t care because they are never accountable. They are never named.”

    “managers would be more likely to take care if they thought that they would be exposed publically”

    I am starting to think that Michael is right and that publicly naming and shaming those individuals that do wrong is probably THE ONLY way to make a difference.

    So many “inquiries” have been held into workplace bullying (in May this year there was one in NSW) and yet nothing seems to change really, bullying remains rampant and on the increase.
    I don’t think there is a “fix” unless perhaps those individuals are starting to feel it on a more personal level, i.e by being publicly named and shamed. May their family, friends. colleagues, employer and the other people who they have bullied into silence know who they really are!

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  2. Interestingly the draft code Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying are being revised by SafeWork based on public comment and are expected to be finalised later this year.

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    workcovervictim3 July 5, 2012 at 10:15 am
  3. As Maria correctly commented on our Facebook link re this article “I think that for a bullying complaint/ psychological injury to be recognised it may also have to be “reasonably” foreseeable that the “bullying” behaviour from the employer would result in an illness. It’s very subjective and vague and difficult to prove..”.
    However this of course the not warrant such inappropriate behaviour from a WorkSafe inspector.
    The other issue we want to reinforce is that you have to be careful when using discrimination laws (human rights commission, equal opp comm, etc) as these laws may seriously interfere with workcover laws – they are totally different jurisdictions. You either go under a workplace injury or pursue alternate jurisdictions and laws, but can’t do both.

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    Workcovervictim July 6, 2012 at 10:36 am
    • Are you sure that you can’t do both? I had a work cover claim accepted and was advised by several solicitors to make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission about the harassment and discrimination.

      What about if you have been constructively dismissed because of reporting an injury?

      Does that mean you can’t pursue an unfair dismissal or general protections dispute while you wait for a wrokcover claim decision to be reviewed?

      What if you have returned to work as an injured worker and have been disseminated against AND injured by bullying?

      The law is so specialised, it’s so difficult to understand what to do!

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      • If you have been unfairly or unlawfully or constructively sacked you can of course go to Fair Work, BUT you need decent legal advice as these laws may interfere with a workplace injury and in particular with a common law damages claim. For example, assume you have sustained a severe physical injury AND you have been bullied to the verge of suicide AND been unlawfully sacked. When you go to court to fight your entitled common law damages claim (assuming that you re entitled to one) and you for example argue about your capacity for work as you also want to claim economic loss in addition to pain and suffering. The mere fact that your pathetic bullying and despicable employer sacked you (be it unlawfully, unfairly, constructively) many mean that they have given you (the injured worker and sollicitor) a GOLD MINE as THEY state that YOU can not work (hence they sacked you). I hope this makes sense. This advise comes from a senior lawyer and involves a case with which we are very familiar with. The injured worker was seriously injured physically, underwent numerous surgeries, was forced to continue work by her employer and insurers notwithstanding she had medical certificates stating she was not allwed to work. Her injury was made worse and worse until it was no longer reparable with surgery (she is now extremely disabled for life). Her employer bullied her so badly she nearly committed suicide. Her employer also bribed her for “f*cking” up a RTW and when she wrote a letter to the HR manager to ask for an investigation into the matter she was also sacked (unlawfully). Rather than go to Fair Work or the EOC (and get either 12 months wages or a reinstatement) her lawyer advised her to keep this “goldmine” for her common law damages claim, where she managed to claim for pain and suffering but also for economic loss. The mere fact that her employer had ill-treated and unlawfully sacked her bit them back as they had no argument whatsoever in their defense to be able to show that this person was “able” to work again…
        So our advise is to tread carefullly and seek expert legal advice in the field of personal (workplace) injury and how Fair Work for example may or may not affect your injury claim in the long term.

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        workcovervictim July 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm
        • Now this is getting a bit confusing for me. I am going to Fair Work next week re my unfair dismissal because they sacked me because I can’t work in their organization anymore due to it affecting my health because of the bullying. They state “They believe I am unable to return to my position and it is uncertain when I will be able to.” Should I have waited to take this to court for my work cover claim and fought it all then?

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        • When I signed the deed for the voluntary separation package that I never put an expression of interest in for back in 2011…they added a specific clause….I was not allowed to take my complaints to the Human rights commission….my solicitors made them remove the bit about not being able to take further action via common law….now this is the best bit….why in hells name was Crown Law involved….they approached my solicitors with the question if I was interested….that was their way of sacking me but in the nicest possible way…this became part of my complaint to the Ombudsman of reprisal…their answer….I signed it under legal advice…end of that part of my nightmare

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  4. I had a similar incident when I reported my bullying, the manager from worksafe wanted to know if my manager yelled at me otherwise it was not bullying. Which made me feel even more upset that my complaint again would not be heard properly.The bullying imposed on me was systematic long term abuse where her actions were covert and not seen by others except on one occasion. Further to this the investigation that Worksafe conducted was not done properly as they only went by the insurance companies statements which were whether I could do my job not about the bullying. I had nowhere to turn for help.

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  5. OH, and I also found out this morning from the insurance company that they knew all about my bullying complaint to Worksafe!!

    They also had a report from my own doctor, before I even had a copy of it!

    They also said that they would be discussing my current claim with my previous insurance company and that they knew that person who was handling my complaint at the other insurance company quite well.

    Creepy! It’s just feeling more and more like Big Brother every day. Actually, it’s more like the “little brother” acting as big brother.

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  6. WorkSafe protects their agents and complaints to them are a complete waste of time – WorkCover Assist confirmed this.  WorkSafe cannot even fix  the widespread bullying going on at WorkSafe!   Just one small example of how they are not impartial – treating doctor complained about the way a case manager harassed another doctor to withdraw their medical opinion.  WorkSafe took over a month to respond and in conclusion of their “investigation” rested on the denial of the case manager – didn’t bother contacting the doctor involved -wasn’t that a fair and transparent investigation!   It’s a complete joke but no ones laughing!

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    corrupt & connected June 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm