Kelly Tanner Workplace Bullying Case Awards $40,000 at the ERA - May 2011
Tauranga Advocacy Network
Employment, Consultant, Dispute Resolution
A recent determination in the ERA between a
highlights the requirements of employers in dealing appropriately with
issue’s of workplace bullying in an appropriate timely manner.
Advocate’s from Tauranga Advocacy Network were heavily involved in the
initial case, and were the primary liaison between the two parties.
Post-mediation, the case was attended by Warwick Reid of Reid Legal
The employee had raised a complaint in January 2010 to the employer
alleging bullying and requesting the employer investigate with an
understanding of the negative health impacts the alleged actions were
having on her.
The employer had no documentation between January and July 2010 to show
that any substantial action had been taken to address the alleged
bullying or protect the employee from further health – impacting stress,
and took no steps to prevent the bully from striking again. In July
2010, the employee went on sick leave which would prove to be extended
by medical certificates to early October 2011.
When the employer and our advocate met, we requested that they
investigate the matter. It was pointed out to the employer however, that
harm had already occurred to the employee, and that the lack of
documented evidence of substantial action to protect the employee may
well leave them liable under current legislation.
Several interesting points were gleaned from this case, and some other
matters in recent news:
This is one of New Zealand’s larger awards in a workplace bullying
dispute. Workplace bullying is a serious matter that employers need to
take more care than ever to manage appropriately. New Zealand is several
years behind Australia in dealing with bullying from an Employment
Relations perspective, employers and managers would do well to take heed
that our cousins across the Tasman are now contemplating whether
workplace bullying should be a crime punishable under law by a maximum
imprisonment term of up to 10 years.
- Egg shell skull principle - The eggshell skull rule (or
‘thin skull’ rule or ‘you take your victim as you find him’ rule of the
common law) is a well established legal doctrine.
- Vicarious liability for managers actions - meaning that the actions
of an employee are, for the purposes of the law, regarded as the actions
of the employer.
- Mental harm (understanding) – details and definitions of mental
harm, and the applicable legislation and payment expectations.
- Workplace Bullying as a criminal action – becoming otherwise known
as “Brodies law”, The Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 enacts the
nationally agreed Model Work Health and Safety Act (Model Act) in NSW to
take effect from 1 January 2012.
- Firearms in the Workplace - it will be interesting to see if this
gets any attention, as we believe it's just as important to tighten
current firearms laws as it is to introduce new legislation.
In light of this and the bullying cases, New Zealand employers should
take great care in establishing and firmly implementing consistent and
coherent policies and procedures to protect themselves and their
employees from any harm.
Follow this link to find out more http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10728457
, Dispute Resolution
, Employment Advocacy
, Human Rights
, Workplace Bullying