Employer needs to deal with two stress claims arising from bullying complaint

The Situation

The Managing Director of our not-for-profit client received a complaint of bullying from his Operations Manager, who claimed she was being sent harassing emails at all hours of the day from the organisation’s CFO.  Following receipt of the bullying complaint and copies of a trail of emails, the Operations Manger presented a WorkCover Certificate from her GP claiming she was on stress leave and unable to return to work for two weeks.

The MD had called the CFO in to relay the complaint against her and seek her response.  The next day, the CFO emailed the MD to advise she had just visited her doctor and been given a medical certificate for three weeks due to workplace stress.

The Task

The objective of O’Connell Workplace Relations was to facilitate the resolution of the bullying complaint and the two potential workers’ compensation claims which could have a substantial adverse impact on the premiums of the organisation.

Actions

O’Connell Workplace Relations investigators arranged to meet with the complainant at a neutral venue with a support person chosen by the Operations Manager in order to receive more details of her complaint and what would be needed to facilitate her return to work (this turned out to be the sacking of the CFO).

O’Connell Workplace Relations investigators also wrote to the CFO explaining they had been engaged to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of the Operations Manager and would be willing to receive her response either at interview or in writing in order to making findings on the matter.

O’Connell Workplace Relations also made contact with the organisation’s workers’compensation insurer to ascertain what would be needed to assist them to deny the claims for workers’ compensation from both the complainant and the accused.  As a result of this approach, a copy of the executive summary of the investigation report making positive misconduct findings against the CFO was provided.

Results for the client

The workers’ compensation claims of both the complainant and the accused were denied by the insurer with information including the summary of the O’Connell Workplace Relations investigation.

With clear evidence against the CFO (who it was revealed had been given a previous written warning for sending in appropriate emails to other staff), the organisation terminated her employment and entered into a Deed of Release for confidential settlement agreement.

 

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