Supervisor secures bullying order against Manager

Supervisor secures bullying order against Manager

The Fair Work Commission has granted an order to stop bullying against a store manager who was found to have acted unreasonably towards a subordinate employee over a period of almost twelve months.

The complainant is employed at M Pty Ltd, a high-end jewellery and watch store based on the Gold Coast. Initially employed as a Sales Assistant, she had been promoted to the position of Supervisor in February 2020. The following month a more senior manager was engaged in the new position of Boutiques Manager (BM).

Initially, the complainant was one of three employees who signed a joint letter forwarded to the company’s head office in Melbourne on 16 September 2020, complaining about various aspects of BM’s alleged behaviour towards them. The company responded by informing them they could not act unless each of the three workers lodged individual complaints. This did not occur.

In seeking an order to stop bullying, the complainant raised numerous issues concerning her unhappiness towards BM’s treatment of her, which she claimed had made her unhappy and depressed.

Although not accepting all of the issues raised by the complainant, Commissioner Jennifer Hunt found that BM acted unreasonably towards her with the following behaviours:

  • On numerous occasions, encouraging her to leave to work for a direct competitor;

  • Following her repeatedly around the store without sufficient reason;

  • Holding his hand up to her in a `stop sign’ position to prevent her discussing issues with him;

  • Remonstrating with her after sending her a message via mobile phone to offer a bottle of water to a particular customer, which she did not read;

  • Issuing her a written warning on 15 April 2021 for being untidy at work without discussing the issue with her;

  • On 16 April 2021, withdrawing the previous warning but issuing a final warning for allegedly causing a loud noise when closing a display cabinet;

  • After she told him that she needed a lunch break and asked if he could serve a customer, he replied, “Shut up; you are not allowed to say a word in front of me”;

  • Issuing her with an unwarranted Performance Improvement Plan; and

  • Repeatedly ignoring her morning greetings.

Commissioner Hunt was critical of the employer noting in her decision,

“I consider that (she) has been let down by her employer. No bullying policy or procedure exists. (She) had complained about Mr Wong’s behaviour for a considerable period of time. No action was taken to address the concerns (she) had, nor the concerns raised by other employees”.

Consequently, Commissioner Hunt issued an order preventing further bullying by the BM against the complainant.

Q v M Pty Ltd; W (AB2021/289) 27 July 2021

For questions about bullying and harassment policies, dealing with complaints, harassment claims, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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