Rejected WorkCover claim turns into 130 weeks of weekly payments

Maxiom’s Shane Don and Sach Fernando recently obtained a settlement of 130 weeks of weekly payments and medical and like expenses paid to date and ongoing for a woman who sustained severe psychiatric injuries.

Background:

Our client was a 52 year old National Credit Manager. Throughout the course of her employment, she was bullied, sexually harassed and racially vilified by nine male co-workers. These incidents included but were not limited to co-workers:

  1. Wolf whistling when they walked past her.
  2. Changing their phone ringtones to whistling sounds.
  3. Referring to her as “Mus-slime”.
  4. Excluding her from work events.
  5. Stealing her personal items.
  6. Telling her she should go work in the toilet or a cardboard box.

Injuries:

As a result of the treatment she endured, she sustained psychiatric injuries. Our client was diagnosed with major depressive disorder along with anxiety disorder. She became hypervigilant and particularly sensitised when hearing any whistling.

The Dispute:

In 2018, our client had lodged a WorkCover claim. The WorkCover insurer rejected her claim on the basis that her injuries arose wholly or predominantly by management action taken on reasonable grounds and in a reasonable manner. The insurer alleged that her injuries emanated from the process of investigations performed by the employer subsequent to her complaints.

Our client had sought legal advice from other law firms and was advised that they could not assist her.

Following her consultation with us, we initiated Magistrates’ Court proceedings to dispute the Workcover insurer’s decision.

The Proceedings:

Our client was entitled to compensation if the work-related bullying and harassment was causative of or was a significant contributing factor to her psychiatric injuries.To this extent, medical evidence from both parties was largely unanimous in concluding that this was the case.

We further argued that the Defendant’s defence of ‘reasonable management action’ would fail. We submitted that our client had made multiple complaints to her employer regarding the bullying behavior and that her employer had not adequately enforced the directives that had been implemented following her complaints.

Following negotiations with the Defendant, we were able to obtain a settlement that was important to supporting our client’s psychiatric condition.

If you have been injured at work, we can help. Please call us on 1800 853 085 or 0488 722 444 for an obligation free discussion of your case.