Another Horror Story – Bullying at a large employer and the corruption of a claims system

bullied-workers

“I have wanted to tell this story for a long time, and having now pretty much explored every legal avenue I am more confident in doing so”, writes an injured worker who experienced sickening bullying in his workplace….

Another Horror Story – Bullying at a large employer and the corruption of a claims system

I worked in a specialist role with a large employer in a regional area.

In 2009, I informed my employer that I was being bullied by my manager.

They showed great concern, promising to investigate and offered me employer sponsored counselling. While everyone was entitled to three sessions with a psychologist, they would pay for as many as I needed.

Unsurprisingly, the report came back stating that while my manager had “communication issues”, there was no “bullying”.

As I had made a complaint about my manager, he decided to put me on a “performance management” program formalising the bulling in the process.

He “demoted” me by making me work well below my skillet, took away all seniority and prevented me from attending team bonding and training events. Again, I was advised that this was nothing to do with a bullying complaint, it was simply my manager choosing to manage me as he saw fit.

That was his right they said, especially as I had “performance issues”.

After 9 months of being demoralised to the point of injury, I lodged a WorkSafe claim in mid 2010. I was unable to work. This was rejected by the agent.

The manager of the WorkSafe office that rejected my claim was the husband of the human resources employee who had determined that I was not being bullied. Just a little conflict of interest, right? Don’t worry, it gets worse.

After the rejection of my claim, I lodged and waited five months for a conciliation hearing. At the hearing, the documentation relied on to reject my claim was investigated.

The Conciliation Officer found the rejection so flawed that they issued a direction notice ordering the agent to accept the claim as originally lodged, back payment and all.

This meant that I was now being paid, and I was to be provided with a return to work programme. The direction notice was not challenged in the magistrates court as required to have this overturned.

6 weeks after acceptance of the claim by the ACCS, I was invited to attend a “rehabilitation meeting”. This included a cast of many, including for some reason the manager of the local insurance agent’s office. During the meeting, he big noted himself by stating that whilst the claim was accepted and they did not dispute that, he felt that the ACCS had made an error and as such while I may have been entitled to payment when the order was made he determined that this was no longer the case.[WTF, we say!]

The circumstances of my claim had not changed. Not a single new medical report had been sought.

My employer verbally offered me a return to work, but limited the provision of the modified duties I needed to a period of six weeks, which coincided with the date of the forthcoming “termination notice”.

The modification, for the record, was to ensure I was not placed in a position where my bullying manager could target me. The return to work plan was rejected by treating medical practitioners as being unsuitable (a good rehab consultant!). My employer advised that they had spoken to my manager (the one who had caused the injury!) and he had informed them I was unskilled (despite being in a senior position and the highest paid member of the team) and therefore unable to perform any other function.

As as result of this advice they could not find an “alternate” position for me. In other words, they were resisting finding me a position, and due to the “termination” of my claim I was no longer entitled to either compensation or more importantly for me a return to work on suitable duties.

Back to the ACCS again to have the “termination” heard.

This time the officer was concerned at the enormity of issuing a direction, so the matter went to court.

When the matter was eventually heard in court a year later, the magistrate in a very short hearing again confirmed the original decision of the ACCS and backdated / reinstated my claim.

Unfortunately the obligation period on my employer had continued the whole time I was waiting for court and had now expired.

My employer no longer had any obligation to offer assistance with rehabilitation. As a specialist in an area with only one suitable employer I was essentially discarded until such time as my compensation payments ran out at 130 weeks.

There are many, many more dirty horrible details to this scenario, but what is ultimately the worst one is this. My employer advertised for a new head of Health and Safety a couple of weeks after my original claim was directed to be paid by the ACCS.

Five months later (about three weeks after my claim was terminated) the new national head of safety at my employer was announced as the former manager of the local WorkSafe agent which had denied and then terminated my claim.

I can’t help thinking that this is not how claims are supposed to progress? WorkSafe for their part spent months looking into how they could make my employer accountable, including issuing compliance notices (which the manager of the WorkSafe agent’s officed helped them overturn on a technicality).

Multiple inspections were arranged of my employer.

Ultimately as they had done nothing wrong (when an entitlement is “terminated” by the agent, the employer obligations legally cease), no case could be made against them.

What disheartens me most has been the attitude of the bureaucrats within the system. At one stage the director of the Return to Work division at WorkSafe told me “unfortunately sometimes employers just don’t meet their obligations”.

As though it was sad but unavoidable. I have now been left with a general attitude by the bureaucrats of “we paid you and offered rehabilitation” as though that is enough.

All I needed and wanted was a safe and structured return to work programme.

This would have prevented me having to sell my house, take my kids out of school, and relocate to a city in the hope I may one day find work. I can only worked limited hours (thus denying me compensation past the 130 weeks) so finding work is proving a challenge at best, especially as I sill suffer from severe anxiety and depression.

 

We can not thank you enough, M, for sharing your story. It is stories like this that desperately need public and media attention, because this is the sad REALITY for so many injured workers on our so called workcover system, which we prefer to call “workcover terrorism”. Your experience is a classic example of how a bully can destroy a life and how our workcover system adds insult to injury.

[post dictated by workcovervictim and manually entered on behalf of workcovervictim]

 

 



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13 Responses to “Another Horror Story – Bullying at a large employer and the corruption of a claims system”

  1. I feel for you M reading your story. It reminds me of so many of the elements of my own, from the mobbing – putting you in a room with many other people, all on the ‘other side’ – to the lies, manipulations and totally sham processes. The Workover is one great big sham, and a shame too. Stay strong, keep fighting as best you can, and good luck with looking for work.

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  2. This is exactly the type of Workcover fraud tact used employers that is festering in this no blame system. This is not an uncommon scenario used by dishonest bullying employers to torture their victim. Whilst confidently defiant of any decision made by any court in this country. Does this type of criminal activity, that thumbs its nose at ” the law” have any consequences to its actions? Obliviously not. Does it cost the taxpayer, victims and honest employers? Yes. Does our government want to review this system to stop this level of fraud? Say no more.

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  3. I feel very sorry by reading yet another case of authorised criminal activity.

    Those criminals have no brain, what they do is to follow insurance’s guidelines, yes guys you should know that multi billions insurance companies support the system with logistic criminal and terrorist training support (and bribes), they don’t need to think much about but only to follow the “scripts”! From this story I could recall at least 4 criminal tactics that were applied to my case, not to mention ACCS did not suggest any advice BUT only “you can go to the Magistrate Court” WTF is that I knew already! Do you see any bribe in this?

    The poor injured worker had to sell house, take kids from school and move city! Cases like this shall go to the UN where our rich politicians show the best of their smile and put Australians’ problems out of their agendas.

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    • An interesting read Google workcover harrassment it speaks of a senior case manager at WC Qld that put a claim and was inturnally harrassed by his own colleges

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  4. I did in fact take this all the way to the minister. His response basically reiterated that I had been paid and despite months of investigation by both WorkSafe and the Ombudsman, “legally” no one had done anything wrong.

    Apparently I was one of the “lucky” ones, and yes bureaucratic torture of individuals is perfectly OK because that is the “process” and it all worked out ok in the end.

    Yeah, right!

    People would be absolutely shocked if they knew who the employer was, how large they are, and how they market themselves.

     

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    • M

      Shocked at the employer?  That big, well known?  I’m thinking the amount of publicity over DJs and wonder if you have spoken to any lawyers amount damages?  A lot of lawyers will jump through hoops if the profile of the bully is big enough, great publicity for their law firm.

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      • Sadly I am not a pretty young woman at the beginning of my career.

        I have spoken with senior partners at big city law firms about this. As I am not damaged enough the payoff isn’t big enough for them. Pretty much every lawyer I have spoken to has said the same thing “yeah, you will win but whatever you get will disappear in legal fees”

        A senior lawyer at <responsible authority>  pretty much told me that as they only had about an 80% chance of winning if they prosecuted my employer they didn’t feel it worth the risk.

        Lawyers are driven by ego (most).

         

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        • its not about the money its about exposing these people so what if the lawyers get it all in fees winning is what you want surely

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      • ASX 200 company – beloved by the public.

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  5. The absolute disgrace is how my story resonates with people. My story should have been unique, not business as usual.

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    • @M, unfortunately our lives are managed by greedy and criminal multi billions corporates, their only aim is to increase their shares price and so to gain more and more customers.

      Your story is unique in a way that such disgraceful events shall never happen, unfortunately we are many I believe too many. I had in the recent past a struggle with a super fund (again insurances) then I made complaints to the Super Tribunal, I was told that the Tribunal had no power to force the super fund to comply with the an agreement, I finally wrote a letter to the Victorian Minister, he replayed after SIX months saying “I see no issue here, the Tribunal is working on your issue”! WTF I thought!

      This corrupted and criminal system monopolised by insurance companies is destroying our welfare, our lives, they are spoiling and wasting taxpayers’ money and funds for their own gains. You should know that too many injured workers have no chance by to rely on Centrelink, Medicare and private health insurances? My insurer didn’t pay back medical bills to Medicare and even if I alerted Medicare, they didn’t care at all!

      This is just the beginning of the bankruptcy: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/time-for-medicare-overhaul-as-gap-between-rebates-and-bills-widens/story-e6freabl-1226518762664

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  6. M, That’s just confirming what this system is designed to achieve. How much worse does this get? People have to foreclose on their homes and endure abuse. That is all a part of the process? Were Australians deceived? Believing we are paying into an insurance system that is caring for us when we have an injury at work? Or a process of draining us financially and emotionally when we are no longer physically able of being productive. Then paying for this system through our taxes. To call you “lucky” just confirms the minister knows of worse atrocities and has failed to act. Hiding behind a law that is wrong is one thing but to hide behind it and have power to force change makes this minister accountable.

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    • Trinny I think know you are 100% correct in saying the Minister was calling M ‘lucky’ because he knew of worse is a sad moment for us all.

      M I am sorry to hear what you & your family have had to endure to get this far. Sadly, most of us would not be surprised who the employer is. Hopefully by finding this site & being able to find information & support, will lead to you being a survivor of WC.

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