In a recent decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC),
employees who were the subject of workplace bullying have succeeded
in obtaining formal stop bullying orders. The decision shows the
measures the FWC is willing to implement when bullying is
considered to be an ongoing risk.
Two employees of a small real estate business applied to the FWC
for "stop bullying" orders following unreasonable conduct
by a property manager. The alleged bullying included swearing,
yelling, interfering with and undermining the employees' work
and threats of violence.
The employer conceded that the FWC could make a finding that
bullying had occurred based on the undisputed evidence of all
However, before it could make any orders, the FWC had to be
satisfied that "there is a risk that the worker(s) will
continue to be bullied at work ...". In this case,
although the property manager had resigned from her employment and
was working from a different location, she was working for a
related business and the FWC felt there was a real prospect that
the applicants and the property manager would have future work
By consent, the FWC made stop bullying orders with two main
elements. First, the FWC ordered that the applicants and the
property manager not approach each other and that they not attend
the (other) business premises. Second, a number of initiatives were
ordered that go to the broader conduct and culture within the
workplace, for example the establishment and implementation of
appropriate anti-bullying policies, procedures and training. The
orders will remain in force for 24 months.
The FWC held that these orders were genuine preventative orders
in the particular context, consistent with the purpose of the
In a rare move, the FWC issued the orders and the decision
without identifying the parties involved. There can be good reasons
in this kind of case for keeping the names out, but it does make
the gossip less exciting.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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