Bullying and workplace psychological injury claims

Workplace bullying is a growing problem which is becoming increasingly costly for individual victims and organizations alike.

The NSW Law Society states that Unreasonable and inappropriate workplace behaviour includes bullying, which comprises behaviour that intimidates, offends, degrades, insults or humiliates a worker, possibly in front of co-workers, clients or customers, and which includes physical or psychological behaviour.

Bullied targets have a 70 percent chance that they will lose their jobs, either voluntarily or through constructive discharge, after being targeted but in only 13 percent of cases are perpetrators punished or terminated. Destructive aggression carries few risks for perpetrators.

In addition to this, many targets of workplace bullying will suffer financial setbacks due to lack of performance at work, lack of attendance at work due to fear of intimidation, and the cost of medications and therapy to cope with mental health issues that occur as a direct flow-on from being bullied.

Under Workplace Health and Safety Laws Persons conducting a business or undertaking have the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other people are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. Workers and other people at a workplace have a duty to take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

In some cases the issue of bullying can be resolved internally via consultation with higher management. In other cases workers may need to take the matter to Safe Work Australia, WorkCover, or the Fair Work Commission.

In cases where the target is assessed as having a psychological injury amounting to 15% whole person impairment being the result of bullying, a common law claim for damages may be brought. There are however further criteria which must be met before any compensation may be ordered.

For further information contact Whitelaw McDonald Solicitors today on 4941 8999 to book a consultation with one of our experienced workers compensation solicitors.

By Kaela Carter , Solicitor