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Hospital fined $60,000 after worker bullied

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Wednesday, 6 October, 2021 - 12:00
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Victoria

A Werribee hospital where a worker was subjected to 18 months of bullying by a senior staff member has been convicted and fined $60,000.

Wyndham Clinic was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty on 27 September to one charge of failing to provide and maintain, as far as was reasonably practicable, systems of work that were safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of $19,630.

The court heard from September 2014 until she resigned in March 2016, the worker was bullied by Wyndham Clinic CEO Peter Bailey.

The bullying behaviour included verbal abuse such as yelling and swearing, telling the worker to look for another job and that other people in the office did not like her.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Wyndham Clinic had neither policies and procedures to specifically address bullying, nor did it have a system in place to report bullying behaviour.

The court heard the bullying and the clinic’s failure to address it left the worker feeling hurt, humiliated, fearful and worthless.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Andrew Keen said bullying behaviour could have lasting impacts on workers and entire workplaces.

“Workplace bullying can devastate individuals and their families and put whole workplaces under stress,” Keen said.

“All workers deserve to go to work without fear of being bullied or harassed and all employers have a clear responsibility to protect workers from risks to their physical and mental health, including from this sort of abhorrent behaviour.”