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Cleaning Supervisor Accused Of Bullying Wins Unfair Dismissal Case

Cleaning supervisor accused of bullying wins unfair dismissal case

A cleaner accused of bullying by her colleagues has won her unfair dismissal case.

The Fair Work Commission found her employer failed to provide procedural fairness before sacking her over the bullying allegations.

Bullying and harassment

The woman worked for contracting company City Clean which provides services to high security premises such as military properties.

She worked as a casual employee at the Randwick Army Barracks from June 2020.

Management subsequently promoted her to a permanent supervisor position in November that year.

However, soon after taking the position, a number of staff accused her of bullying and harassing them.

The woman told the Commission that from December, she became stressed and anxious regarding her new position.

She claimed long work hours and dealing with staffing issues caused the stress.

She also claimed she did not receive adequate support from her manager.


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Staff complaints

In April 2021, a number of staff met with the supervisor’s manager and a company director to complain about the woman’s conduct.

They had previously sent a text telling them, “they have had enough !!!!”

During the meeting, the workers accused the supervisor of belittling them, gossiping about them behind their back and creating a hostile environment.

In fact, one employee resigned telling management it was because of the way the supervisor treated him.

Termination

In response, management met with the supervisor the following day to “get her side of the story”, however, they did not tell her the subject of the meeting.

During the meeting, the woman expressed shock and denied she swore and yelled at staff, and demanded to know who had made the allegations.

However, just 15 minutes into the meeting, the director of the company decided staff had been telling the truth.

He told the supervisor there is a zero percent tolerance for bullying and harassment and consequently claimed he had no option but to terminate her employment.

He directed her not to return to Randwick Barracks.

“I explained to her that we would further investigate the claims, however from what she had just said, there was no future for her at Randwick and her position at Randwick was terminated,” he told the Commission.

There was some discussion about moving the supervisor to another site, however this did not happen.

Cleaner accused of bullying wins unfair dismissal

Deputy President Michael Easton said bullying and harassment can be a valid reason for dismissal.

However, apart from general complaints, and a petition signed by 11 workers, the Commission found City Clean failed to provide little direct evidence of this conduct.

Furthermore, Deputy President Easton found City Clean failed to give the supervisor a chance to respond to the allegations against her.

“[The supervisor] was not given any proper opportunity to respond to the allegations against her. No details of the allegations were put to her at the meeting on 8 April 2021.

“On 9 April 2021 [the company director] decided to terminate [the supervisor’s] employment without any further discussion with her – which means that none of the information obtained by [her manager] when he spoke to employees was put to [the supervisor] at all.”

In the end, Deputy President Easton found City Clean’s director did the right thing to protect staff from bullying and harassment.

However, he also found the company failed to do enough to protect the supervisor from unfair treatment.

“[The company director] could have taken effective steps to prevent possible bullying action from continuing, including possibly dismissing [the supervisor], but also taken steps to ensure that [the supervisor] had a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations against her.”

Deputy president Easton found the dismissal harsh, unjust and unreasonable.

He ordered City Clean pay the difference between her lost wages and workers compensation she had received.


LEARN MORE

Read Deputy President Easton’s full decision


Please call our specialist team at Fair Work Claims today on

1300 324 748

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Fair Work Claims is part of the Supportah Network.

We are a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.

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