The following anti-bullying matter was dealt with at a conference before a Member of the Commission. Conferences are conducted in private, unless the person responsible for conducting the conference directs that it be conducted in public. Accordingly, parties have been de-identified.
The applicant worked at a business in the hospitality industry for over a year. The applicant alleged that a co-worker was engaging in behaviour characterised by raising her voice and making offensive statements. It wasn’t clear from the application whether or not this was the sole incident as the applicant suggested it had occurred over the period of a year.
The applicant applied to the Commission for an order to stop bullying in March 2014. The application did not appear to have any threshold jurisdiction issues and so proceeded through the usual case management process. The case manager spoke with the applicant the day after their application was lodged. The case manager discussed with the applicant what the role of the Commission was in dealing with anti-bullying matters and confirmed that the applicant understood that their employer and the person named in the application would receive a copy of their application. The applicant confirmed that they wished to continue with their application.
That same day, the case manager also contacted the employer of the applicant. The case manager explained the role of the Commission in dealing with anti-bullying matters and asked whether the employer would be able to handle any issues that may arise as a result of the person named receiving the application. The employer confirmed that they knew there were issues between the two individuals and had tried to address them. The employer had concerns about the person named being served but understood that they were also a party to the application and needed to be involved. The employer was advised that the person named would be contacted the following day so that they had the opportunity to take any action they thought might be necessary to manage the matter.
Both the employer and the person named were given an opportunity to respond. The employer provided a detailed response indicating that they believed the matter to be an isolated incident and set out the steps they had taken to resolve the issue, including interviewing the staff who were involved. The person named also responded to the application, indicating that the behaviour was out of character.
The matter was subject to a conference with a Member of the Commission and the parties were able to resolve the matter. It transpired through the conference that there was a pattern of behaviour that the employer had not initially been aware of that necessitated more intervention. The matter was also the more challenging as they worked in a remote location and were living in the same small community.
The parties agreed that:
- a formal warning would be issued to the person named
- mediation between the co-workers would take place, and
- until that time, the co-workers would not be rostered on together where possible.