Bully boss fined $60,000 for terrorising apprentices
The director of a Tullamarine glass company who subjected two apprentices to ongoing bullying, including hoisting one of them upside down at a work Christmas party, has been convicted and fined $60,000.
Published:12 December 2023
Steven Yousif, the sole director of Melbourne Glass Solutions Pty Ltd, was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday after pleading guilty to a single charge of being an officer of a company that failed to provide and maintain safe systems of work, a contravention solely attributable to his failure to take reasonable care.
Yousif was also ordered to pay costs of $6000.
The court heard Yousif subjected the two apprentices to physical violence, verbal insults, threats and intimidation between March 2019 and May 2021.
One of the apprentices was employed by Yousif for approximately two years and over that time was verbally insulted, threatened with dismissal and prevented from attending TAFE courses.
The apprentice was also harmed physically, including at the Christmas party in 2020 where he was taped to a crane topless and slapped by Yousif, in an incident partly filmed and then circulated on social media.
As a result of the bullying, the apprentice has had ongoing mental health struggles including suicidal thoughts, anxiety, stress, embarrassment, fear and depression.
The other apprentice worked for Yousif for approximately 12 months and was left feeling fearful, intimidated and insulted after being subjected to verbal insults, threats of dismissal and also prevented from attending TAFE.
A WorkSafe investigation found Melbourne Glass Solutions did not provide and maintain adequate policies and procedures to manage the risk associated with workplace bullying and that its system of work permitted or failed to stop or reduce bullying conduct.
It was reasonably practicable for Melbourne Glass Solutions to have provided and maintained an adequate workplace bullying policy and for Yousif to have ceased his own bullying behaviour.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said apprentices could be at more of a risk in the workplace because of their inexperience and reluctance to speak up if something is wrong.
"This case is deeply disturbing, not only because of the horrific bullying and violence these apprentices were subjected to, but that it was perpetrated by the one person who should have always had their backs – their boss," Dr Beer said.
"Disgusting behaviour like this will simply not be tolerated and it's up to employers to set the standard and ensure there are policies and procedures in place to prevent, respond and report workplace bullying."
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.