Good record management early on in the complaint process
will save a lot of pain down the track.
An employee has been denied workers' compensation by the
Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal in Tasmania (The
State of Tasmania (Department of Police & Emergency Management)
v H ), on the basis that alleged "belligerent,
aggressive and intimidatory" behaviour by her colleague was
not the most significant cause of an aggravation to the
employee's pre-existing vulvodynia (a chronic pain syndrome
affecting the external female genitals).
In the course of being directed to perform an administrative
task, the employee conveyed to her colleague that she believed the
request to be unreasonable and wanted to discuss the matter with
her supervisor. Following the alleged "enraged" reaction
of her colleague, the employee lodged a claim for
workers"compensation citing alleged bullying by her colleague
as the reason for the aggravation of her condition. The colleague
gave a different version of events, which was preferred by the
The Tribunal rejected the claim on the basis that if the matter
were to proceed to contested hearing, it would be likely that her
colleague's actions would not be found to be unreasonable and
could not be perceived as such by the employee.
Although the facts in the matter pertain to a seemingly mundane,
everyday task, this decision highlights the need for supervisors
and managers to keep good records and file notes of workplace
interactions with their staff, particularly where there is a
complaint or dispute as to the behaviour of one particular
individual. Good record management early on in the complaint
process will save a lot of pain should the issue come before an
external body for determination.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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