In February this year, fines were handed down to three workers
in Victoria, Australia, who physically and emotionally bullied a
teenage co-worker who later committed suicide.
These fines were among the highest penalties ever issued to
individuals under Victorian occupational health and safety
Café employees were fined A$45,000, A$30,000 and A$10,000
for relentlessly insulting and criticising 18 year old waitress,
Brodie Panlock. One of the employees, who managed the café,
also taunted Panlock over a failed suicide attempt. The employees
were witnessed pouring fish oil into Panlock's bag and then
pouring it over her hair and clothes, reducing her to tears. The
Melbourne magistrate said that the cafe had 'tacitly
approved' of the 'persistent and vicious' bullying of
Panlock and that 'the atmosphere in the cafe was
poisonous'. The court regarded the cafe's behaviour as
being in the worst category. It fined the company $220,000 and the
company's director $30,000.
This issue has not been as publicised in New Zealand as it has
been for our Trans Tasman counterparts. However, the New Zealand
Department of Labour has addressed workplace bullying on its
website including how to prevent bullying, what to do if it occurs
and the effect of bullying. We recommend you have an anti-bullying
and workplace violence policy in place and discipline employees in
accordance with the policy.
DLA Phillips Fox is one of the largest legal firms in
Australasia and a member of DLA Piper Group, an alliance of
independent legal practices. It is a separate and distinct legal
entity. For more information visit
This publication is intended as a first point of reference and
should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice.
Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any
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