In Waugh v Simon Blackwood (Workers'
Compensation Regulator)  ICQ 028, the Industrial Court
of Queensland highlighted the breadth of an employer's
potential liability for activities undertaken by its staff, even
where such activities have little connection with the
Ms Waugh was covertly and inappropriately photographed by her
supervisor while at work. Her supervisor used a work mobile phone
to take photos concentrated mainly on Ms Waugh's chest area.
When Ms Waugh discovered this, and asked to view the photographs,
she suffered psychological injury. She subsequently sought
The employer disputed the claim on the basis that the injury was
not work related.
At first instance, the Queensland Industrial Relations
Commission agreed with the employer's argument. It found that
'the workplace was merely the background or setting in which
the inappropriate behaviour took place' and the significant
contributing factor was the taking of the photographs, not Ms
Waugh's employment. Accordingly, her claim for compensation was
Ms Waugh pursued an appeal through the courts and obtained
further medical evidence, which stated that her distress was
greatly magnified by the fact that the photographs were taken at
work and by a superior employee.
The Industrial Court of Queensland (ICQ) allowed the appeal and
accepted Ms Waugh's claim for injury. The fact that the
photographs were taken at the workplace was considered integral to
the development of her psychiatric injury. It was noted that this
was a case in which the employment was more than just the setting
in which the inappropriate behaviour took place. Rather, had it not
been for the employment, the injury would probably not have been
In the ICQ, the employer also submitted that, even if the injury
was work related, the injury arose as a result of 'reasonable
management action'. Under the Workers' Compensation and
Rehabilitation Act 2003, if a psychological injury arises out
of reasonable management action, the injury is excluded and the
worker is unable to obtain compensation.
The ICQ found that the employer's delay in advising Ms Waugh
of the incident, its omission in disciplining her supervisor and
its failure to report the incidents to a higher authority
constituted less than a reasonable management response.
Accordingly, Ms Waugh's claim was accepted and she will now
receive workers' compensation entitlements.
Should you have any queries about what constitutes reasonable
management action or how to respond to work injuries, please
contact a member of our team.
Winner – EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Citation 2009,
2010, 2011 and 2012
Winner – ALB Gold Employer of Choice 2011 and 2012
Finalist – ALB Australasian Law Awards 2008, 2010, 2011 and
2012 (Best Brisbane Firm)
Winner – BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 and 2010 - Best
Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).