Constructive Dismissal Claim Unfounded
A Senior Sales Representative resigned believing that the employment environment was unsafe to her health due to her grievances that her manager’s behaviour amounted to workplace bullying and harassment, and she had no other option but to resign.
The employee complained that the manager had subjected her to unreasonable and inappropriate behaviour, in addition to micromanagement causing her to experience symptoms such as stomach aches, diarrhoea, vivid nightmares, shortness of breath and nerve pain. She made claim for workers compensation after she was certified unfit for work and advised the HR Manager via email detailing her issues and stating that her manager was unapproachable, unpredictable and very difficult to deal with.
Some of her issues included the manager disrespectfully ‘shushed’ her on a number of occasions, went through her emails one by one in a meeting and accused her of lying when she said she would share a hypothetical commission with other sales representatives.
The HR Manager undertook an investigation into the allegations and found that the manager’s actions were reasonable resulting in no further action required to be taken. This was due to witness statements that the manager had never demonstrated any of the alleged behaviours and several witnesses stating that they had seen the employee demonstrating verbal aggression, and that the employee had provided false or misleading information on a number of occasions.
Following the investigation, the employee returned to work, however after a period took absence complaining of inappropriate and belittling behaviour from their manager.
The employee then resigned stating that through no fault of her own, the environment was such that she had no other choice.
The Commissioner found that whilst some instances may have involved behaviour that was ill-considered or at worst abrasive, those instances were limited in number and could not be deemed bullying and harassment. Further it was deemed that the complaints of the employee were based on the management style that the employee found challenging and that some behaviours complained of were when the manager was addressing the employee’s performance.
The Commissioner further found that there was nothing to evidence that the HR Manager’s investigation was in any way improper nor that the conclusions were unreasonable and whilst the employee believed they had no other option except resignation, the options available to the employee included; challenging the investigation findings and/or making a stop-bullying application with the Fair Work Commission. The employee’s claim was rejected due to them taking none of these actions and their resignation was submitted whilst having been absent from the workplace for greater than 3 weeks and therefore was not being subjected to the alleged bullying at the time of resignation.
The above case reinforces following due process when investigating any workplace claims.
If you require advice or assistance with understanding your obligations in relation to a workplace investigation process, or should you require support regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at [email protected] or on 1300 720 004.
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