Hospital fined $60,000 after worker bullied

A Werribee hospital where a worker was subjected to 18 months of bullying by a senior staff member has been convicted and fined $60,000.
News article published

Friday 01 Oct 2021

Industries and topics
  • Healthcare and social assistance
  • Bullying

Wyndham Clinic was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday after pleading guilty on 27 September to one charge of failing to provide and maintain, as far as was reasonably practicable, systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $19,630.

The court heard from September 2014 until she resigned in March 2016, the worker was bullied by Wyndham Clinic Chief Executive Officer Peter Bailey.

The bullying behaviour included verbal abuse such as yelling and swearing, telling the worker to look for another job and that other people in the office did not like her.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Wyndham Clinic had neither policies and procedures to specifically address bullying, nor did it have a system in place to report bullying behaviour.

The court heard the bullying and the clinic's failure to address it left the worker feeling hurt, humiliated, fearful and worthless.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said bullying behaviour could have lasting impacts on workers and entire workplaces.

"Workplace bullying can devastate individuals and their families and put whole workplaces under stress," Mr Keen said.

"All workers deserve to go to work without fear of being bullied or harassed and all employers have a clear responsibility to protect workers from risks to their physical and mental health, including from this sort of abhorrent behaviour."

About workplace bullying:

  • Workplace bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed at an employee that creates a risk to their health and safety.
  • Bullying behaviour can take many forms and can include name calling, threats and physical abuse, singling out a worker for different treatment for no good reason, or pointedly excluding someone from social events.
  • WorkSafe's Advisory Service (1800 136 089) can provide information on bullying and how to prevent it, advice on how to raise the issue of bullying in your workplace or, where appropriate, refer the matter to an inspector.
  • It is important to get the right help and, depending on your personal situation, it might be appropriate for you to seek advice from an agency such as Lifeline or Beyond Blue.

Preventing workplace bullying:

  • Set clear standards of which behaviours are allowed and which are not in your workplace through training and leaders role modelling desired behaviours.
  • Have policies and procedures to guide a consistent approach to prevent, respond and report workplace bullying. Discuss and promote these in team meetings and health and safety committee meetings.
  • Encourage reporting. It is important for those who experience or witness workplace bullying to know who they can talk to, that a report will be taken seriously and that confidentiality will be maintained.
  • Ensure that information about workplace bullying, including relevant policies and procedures, are part of supervisor training and new employee inductions.
  • All employers should carry out a regular check of the workplace in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives to identify hazards and risks such as signs that bullying is happening or if there is an increased risk of it happening.

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