The stakes are risingIn the world of anti-discrimination law awards of money against employers for psychiatric injury or illness caused by sexual harassment by one of their employees have been rare and low, typically in the range of $12,000 to $20,000. Similarly, the anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission has seen limited orders made to prevent further bullying where claims have been made, and compensation is not available as a remedy for bullying behavior.

But things are changing, especially in the area of sexual harassment where awards of damages for psychiatric illness are increasing. This reflects change in societal attitude towards this type of conduct that has (finally) started to be reflected in judicial pronouncements.

The spectrum of mental harm that can be experienced by victims of sexual harassment or bullying covers depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) any of which can be debilitating for a significant period.


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  • An all too common feature of individual employee claims is to include salacious allegations designed to shame or embarrass management representatives.
  • In many cases, such allegations are unrelated to the issues to be determined in the case and are made without proper foundation.  Rather, their purpose is to extract a “shame or silence” premium in settlement negotiations.
  • Recent cases debunk popular “cost-free” perceptions about the Fair Work jurisdiction and reinforce that smear campaigns expose employees and their representatives to liability for legal costs of those required to defend them.
  • Careful positioning by employers can turn the tables on such campaigns by exposing baseless or irrelevant allegations for what they are – an attempt at leverage –  with costly consequences for those responsible.

If you would like more information, read on…
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Since 1 January 2014 the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has administered a new “one stop shop” bullying jurisdiction that can make orders to stop or prevent bullying in the workplace.  Previously bullying type conduct was addressed under a patchwork of different laws including the law of negligence, breach of contract and workplace health and safety legislation.
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