Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple school principals and departmental officers bully classroom teachers into ill health and out of work.

NSW : Fiona Burns, senior associate at Slater and Gordon.

Fiona Burns, a senior associate at Slater and Gordon acted for "Helen Francis", the northern NSW teacher who was bullied by her school principal.

Ms Burns said the Workers Compensation Commission found in Mrs Frances's favour in 2014.

Her school authority was required to pay weekly benefits and cover medical costs.

 

In 2015, Mrs Burns started investigating a work injury damages claim and a claim of negligence against the school.

"One of the tests is that the injury needs to be of a certain severity, the threshold is a whole-person impairment of 15 per cent," Ms Burns said. 

"They assess how well the person can function in their daily life, their ability to take part in society, maintain family or close relationships, care for themselves, and work."

 

Mrs Francis was medically assessed as having a severe injury.

Her whole-person impairment was determined to be 22 per cent. 

An education expert found that the school didn't "act appropriately to eliminate the risk to Helen of her psychiatric injury".  

"Given they were aware of her deteriorating condition, the school should have introduced measures to eliminate the risk to her," Ms Burns said.


The parties reached a six-figure settlement during complusory mediation before the matter went to the NSW District Court.

Teacher awarded six-figure payout after being bullied by school principal, Pallavi Singhal, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2017  

Melbourne, Victoria : Liberty Sanger from Maurice Blackburn

Liberty Sanger from Maurice Blackburn said the case of Eltham Primary School principal Dr Mark Thompson was a "wake-up call"for employers, who should look at their resilience training and vicarious trauma policies.

"This case highlights that very profound psychological injuries occur in the workplace, with dire and fatal consequences," she said. 

"If other (teachers or principals) have sustained or are sustaining an injury it is very important that they seek treatment."

 

 Landmark payout for widow of Melbourne principal who took his own life, Henrietta Cook, The Age, 14 May 2016

Victoria : Michael Magazanik, Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

Peter Doulis is one of the Werribee teachers -

 

http://www.badapplebullies.com/thewerribeestory.htm 

 

His solicitor was Michael Magazanik from Slater and Gordon Lawyers -

 

http://www.slatergordon.com.au/our-people/michael-magazanik 

 

Michael Magazanik says that the decision to award Peter Doulis substantial damages is important because it recognises that teachers who are really struggling have to be supported by their schools.

"We had plenty of calls from teachers during the trial and I suspect there are significant numbers of teachers in Peter's position," Mr Magazanic said.

"The judge made it quite clear that Werribee Secondary College completely failed Peter Doulis."

"They knew his mental health was deteriorating and they did absolutely nothing for him."

"They just left him there to sink and he did."

 

Peter Doulis was represented in court by John Richards, SC -

 

http://www.vicbar.com.au/profile?1489 

 

Supreme Court judge Tim Ginnane found Werribee Secondary College had failed to minimise the risk posed to Mr Doulis by his working conditions and it was "reasonably foreseeable" that Mr Doulis might suffer psychiatric injury.

Judge Ginnane ordered the state of Victoria pay Peter Doulis $769,094 for pain, suffering and past lost wages.

Mr Doulis  is likely to be awarded more money once future economic loss is determined.

 

The Werribee Findings in more detail :

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/vic/VSC/2014/395.html 

 

Mr Magazanik said that Peter Doulis succeeded because he was able to prove that -

 

 * He'd brought to the attention of the principal at Werribee Secondary College the fact that his health was in steep decline.

 * He told them that in writing.

 * He passed on information from a psychologist.

 * And the school sat on its hands and did nothing for him and watched his health go down the gurgler.

 

$750k for teaching 'feral' students, Pia Akerman, p.3, The Weekend Australian, 6-7 September 2014.

Former teacher Peter Doulis awarded damages over 'unruly' students, Jane Lee and Jewel Topsfield, The Age, 5 September 2014

Teacher Peter Doulis wins $1.3m payout after unruly students drive him to the brink, Emily Portelli, The Herald Sun, 16 September 2014

Schools, negligence, and liability for psychiatric injury ; The Doulis Case, Richard Anderson and Felicity Price, Harwood Andrews, Victoria.

Victoria : Adviceline injury lawyers, Victoria - for advice to Victorian teachers on asbestos exposure.

A long serving Australian primary school teacher tragically developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in a regional Victorian primary school.

Adviceline injury lawyers acted for the primary school teacher who was exposed to asbestos when renovations were done to a Victorian primary school in 1991.

These works released asbestos fibres into the atmosphere, as did additional works involving cutting an access doorway into an adjoining portable building which was lined with fibro cement sheeting.

The case is a reminder that even minimal asbestos exposure can be potentially extremely harmful.

Teachers and others should be aware of the potential for older buildings to contain asbestos and ensure that any renovations are conducted appropriately.

Any exposure to asbestos should be immediately reported and a full medical assessment including chest x-rays, should be undertaken.

Adviceline injury lawyers assisted this teacher to recover compensation for her injury.

It is necessary for decisive legal action to be taken quickly following the diagnosis of an asbestos related illness.

 

If you would like more information or advice on this issue please contact -

Michael Schaefer http://www.advicelinelawyers.com.au/our-people/michael-schaefer

or Alice O’Connell http://www.advicelinelawyers.com.au/our-people/alice-o-connell 

of Adviceline injury lawyers on 9321 9988

 

 

Australian teacher contracts mesothelioma after asbestos exposure at school, Advice Line Lawyers, 14 October 2010

New South Wales : Jim Marsden : Lawyer for ex-teachers and students at Camden High, NSW

Contact Jim Marsden, Lawyer  if you are an ex-teacher or ex-student at Camden High and you are interested in the possibility of a class action.
 
The Camden High Story

ACT : David Lander : personal injury / compensation lawyer.

David Lander is "an experienced personal injury / compensation lawyer with 24 years experience in the compensation jurisdiction".

His submission to the Federal Government Inquiry into Workplace Bullying is excellent : David Lander (PDF 961KB)

David Lander seems to have an exceptionally good grasp of what is really "going on" in Australian workplaces.

 

David Lander

68 Belconnen Way

Page

ACT 2614

New South Wales : Ian Collins, solicitor, Katoomba.

Solicitor Ian Collins (4/2 Gang Gang Street, Katoomba, NSW 2780, ph 02 4782 5015) specialises in teachers' cases.

Mr Collins says false claims of misconduct made by students and parents are a common occurrence.

"This is something all teachers are aware of now," Mr Collins said.

"It's about the perception the department is not assisting or protecting its teachers and ... there is a feeling of lack of confidence of how it is going to be managed."

"Teachers know they won't be backed up."

"A child makes an allegation, the department goes into automatic mode and you are basically stood down, the word goes around all the students so your reputation is already damaged."

 

 

Assault claims hitting schools, Briana Domjen, The Sunday Telegraph, 2 December 2012    

New South Wales : Ian Collins : Katoomba : solicitor who specialises in teachers' cases.

Ian Collins, 4/2 Gang Gang Street, Katoomba NSW 2780, ph 02 4782 5015

 

On November 9, 2009, a 26-year-veteran teacher was filling in for an absent teacher in classes at the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE.

The class included high school students, including the then 17-year-old Andrew Olson.

Andrew Olson was allegedly late, disruptive, accused another student of smoking drugs and repeatedly pulled his pants down.

Mr Pace told the students that he would be contacting some of the principals of the high school students about their behaviour.

Mr Olson reportedly responded: "If you ring my principal I will state that you had ... (allegation)."

The teacher then rang Mr Olson's mother Liz twice on two separate days demanding the teenager apologise.

Liz Olson described the phone calls as "disturbing" - and the teacher was later dismissed for misconduct.

The industrial court has ordered that the teacher be reinstated after finding he was unfairly dismissed.

 

The teacher's solicitor Ian Collins, who specialises in teachers' cases, said he had recently handled 10 similar incidents, all involving false allegations against teachers - with the most common being claims of s_xual misconduct.

"All they need is some kid for whatever reason to make a false allegation or a silly allegation and the Education Department goes into full investigation phase and they run it like a full inquisition," Mr Collins said.

 

 
Teacher a victim of false sex claim, Joe Hildebrand, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2011

Victoria : Rob Stary, Melbourne solicitor, and Lachlan Carter, appeal barrister.

Josephine Greensill, a Victorian primary school teacher, was jailed in 2010 for s-x offences allegedly committed in 1979 against two 8-year-old boys.
 
Ms Greensill was charged after the boys, now aged 41 and 42, made police statements in 2007.

 

Judge Gabriele Cannon in the County Court jailed Ms Greensill for five years, with a minimum of two years and eight months to be served.

Ms Greensill served almost 2½ years in jail.
 
 
But Victoria's highest court has now quashed Ms Greensill's convictions, acquitted her and set her free.

Her release followed allegations that her accusers had colluded against her.

 

Ms Greensill, 61, said she wept after her acquittal and was ''too scared'' to believe her ''horrendous experience'' was over.

 

Ms Greensill's solicitor was Rob Stary : http://www.robertstary.com.au/www/content/default.aspx?cid=680

Her appeal barrister was Lachlan Carter : http://www.vicbar.com.au/profile?2909

 

Last month, Mr Carter argued that the convictions were unsafe for reasons that included a ''high risk'' of collusion between the men that had ''contaminated'' the evidence.

He said a detective, against accepted practice, had facilitated contact between the boys.

Mr Carter said one of the men had a motive to implicate Ms Greensill for money, because he knew she had received a payout for her husband's death.

Mr Carter revealed that a week after Ms Greensill's sentence, a solicitor arranged an appointment that later led to a $65,000 compensation payment to the man.

 

 

Jailed teacher cleared of abuse, Steve Butcher, The Age, 10 December 2012 :  http://www.theage.com.au/national/jailed-teacher-cleared-of-abuse-20121209-2b3k6.html

Victoria : John Salanitri, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Dandenong.

John Salanitri, a principal of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Dandenong, Victoria :

 http://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/our-people/professional/john-salanitri.aspx 

is acting for Anne Reed, who was deputy principal of Sacred Heart Parish School, Sandringham, Victoria.

Ms Reed left Sacred Heart Parish School in 2010.

Ms Reed has launched a worker's compensation claim against the school.

Her claim is listed for a Magistrates Court hearing in April 2012.

''It's a stress-related WorkCover claim related to alleged bullying, intimidation and harassment our client experienced at the hands of the principal at that school,'' said Mr Salanitri.

 

 

School plagued by bullying claims faces the loss of half its teachers, Ian Munro, 23 December 2011

South Australia : Tindall Gask Bentley

Tindall Gask Bentley represented principal Sue Burtenshaw in her battle to be reinstated at Coober Pedy Area School : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb2opzznKVY

 

Full details of The Coober Pedy Story can be found at : http://www.badapplebullies.com/sacooberpedystory.htm

 

Tindall Gask Bentley have offices in six locations around South Australia : http://www.tgb.com.au/content/contact-us

 

They have a  WorkCover Survival Kit : http://www.tgb.com.au/node/151 that may be of interest to teachers in other states.

Canberra : Geoff Wilson, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Geoff Wilson, the special counsel for Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, represented four Canberra Institute of Technology employees in their Comcare claims : http://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/our-people/professional/geoff-wilson.aspx

All the workers Geoff Wilson represented suffered a psychological injury.

''Comcare claims were lodged and all of these claims were successful,'' Wilson says.

 

Big toll from bullies at work, Ewa Kretowicz, The Canberra Times, 17 Sep 2011

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers advice on Workplace Bullying : http://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/areas-of-practice/employment--industrial-law/workplace-bullying.aspx

Victoria : Kim Price : Arnold Thomas and Becker

Lawyer Kim Price, from Arnold Thomas and Becker http://www.arnoldthomasbecker.com.au/people/price.htm, is representing George Barrymore Crawford, a trades teacher at Victoria University who was allegedly assaulted by a student and bullied by management in around 2002.

 

Mr Crawford has taken action after suffering ongoing psychological issues from the incidents.

In the statement of claim submitted to the court, it was also argued Mr Crawford suffered “considerable” loss of earnings since resigning, due to anxiety and working part-time as a courier.

“The physical damage wasn’t severe, it was the psychiatric reaction,” Mr Price said.

Mr Crawford is seeking an extension to the six-year statute of limitations in order to have the case heard.

The university’s human resources director, Karen Fitzpatrick, said the issue was a WorkCover matter.

 

Victoria University assault, bullying claim, Anthea Cannon, The Maribyrnong Leader, 16 Aug 2011

West Australia :  Robert McCabe, Slater and Gordon.

Robert McCabe from Slater and Gordon : http://www.slatergordon.com.au/our-people/robert-mccabe , says he has represented a number of teachers and ex-teachers who bore mental and physical injuries from abuse suffered through their teaching careers.

 
 
His client Angelica Franz had been teaching for about 18 years when an angry parent allegedly stormed in to her West Australian classroom in 2005.
 
The parent began yelling accusations of unfair treatment in front of a group of four and five-year-old children.
 
The experience affected Ms Franz's health.

"I didn't feel safe… I just thought 'which parent am I upsetting this time, what's that parent going to do'."

 

 

Teacher quits after parent's verbal attack, Christiana Jones, The West Australian Updated July 9, 2011

Victoria : Josh Bornstein, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Melbourne.

Josh Bornstein of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers , Melbourne, Victoria : http://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/our-people/professional/josh-bornstein.aspx 

 

Josh Bornstein has published a series of videos on Workplace Bullying issues : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT3RQV5q3Ao&list=UUU-JI1zKrq-YHbBZej6HKNw&index=5&feature=plcp

Teachers need good legal advice.

Teachers - you need good legal advice right from the first moment that your health is affected by the workplace abuse.

You may not realise that your health problems are caused by your working conditions.

And you may not realise / be advised that you need to make a WorkCover claim.

 

But first consider this advice from a Victorian teacher,

And keep in mind that -

 *  it may be to your advantage to make your WorkCover claim after you have returned to work - see the article by Cynthia Kardell below.

 * you need to be smart - ensure that there is a written record of your working conditions before your Bad Apple Bully-Mob realise that you are going to make a WorkCover complaint.

Because if your Bad Apple Bully-Mob  realise that you are thinking of making a WorkCover complaint, they will attack you first.

They will quickly put you on "Managing Unsatisfactory Performance" for some trumped-up reason, and then they will claim that it was this "reasonable management action" that made you ill!

 

That's how the Bad Apple Bullies and their bully-mobs "get away with" their workplace abuse.

 

If you decide to make a WorkCover claim, get legal advice on the wording of your claim.

Trilby Misso have a useful guide to understanding the legal process, step by step : http://www.trilbymisso.com.au/legal-help/personal-injury-claim-process.asp

 

Please note: The webmaster receives no benefit or payment of any kind from any person or business mentioned on this website.

The webmaster has no legal knowledge at all, and cannot endorse any particular solicitor.

Please use your own judgement when choosing a solicitor.

 

If any solicitor or teacher would like their details removed from this page, or if a solicitor would like to advise me of a case concerning a teacher that has been published, please email dealingwiththemob@badapplebullies.com

Jennifer Wyborn explains why it is difficult for lawyers to translate workplace bullying into a legal cause of action.

Jennifer Wyborn, an Industrial Law specialist working in the ACT, writes :

Bullying and harassment are serious and systemic issues that have plagued workplaces for years.

From the blatant (such as the apprentice who has the pressure hose turned on him every Friday, as part of an induction ritual) to the subtle (the boss who manipulates and contrives situations so that one employee is always excluded, never selected for training courses and never given an opportunity to progress).

Bullying takes many forms and is present in almost every workplace.

Also present in most workplaces is the pervasive silence that protects the perpetrators.

Many researchers have written about this silence; it's a widespread phenomenon and a largely unexplained one.

Even in the public service, where there are codes of conduct and fairly robust policies dealing with workplace bullying and harassment, the issue arises again and again.

One of the difficulties lawyers face when dealing with cases of workplace bullying is translating the appalling treatment the individual endures into a legal cause of action.

There is no common law or statutory claim of bullying that an individual can make.

Practitioners have been forced to try to shoehorn bullying claims into some other cause of action.

If there is an anti-bullying policy in the workplace, perhaps it is implied in the contract of employment, and the employee could sue for breach of contract.

Bullying will sometimes constitute adverse action, but not always.

If the individual has a disability or is of a particular ethnic origin, it's possibility a discrimination claim may be available.

All of these causes of action, however, have always been ancillary to the bullying behaviour itself, and have often been hard to establish unless the bullying was protracted, documented in some way and caused the individual significant harm.

A good example of a successful claim run in this way is the 2005 case of Naidu v Group 4 Securitas. In this case, a security guard, Devandar Naidu, suffered serious psychiatric injuries from over five years of bullying while employed by Group 4 Securitas.

Through a contract with Group 4, Naidu provided security services to a subsidiary of News Ltd.

Under the contract, he was supervised by a News Ltd employee, Lance Chaloner.

The evidence before the court was that Chaloner subjected Naidu to racial vilification, sexual assault and harassment, in and outside the workplace for years.

Even in this case of extreme bullying, the victim had to rely on discrimination laws and a workers' compensation claim in order to seek redress for the harm he had suffered.

These legal avenues protected Naidu well.

He was awarded $2 million in damages, including lost salary of $70,000 a year until the age of 65, general damages of $200,000 and exemplary damages against News Ltd of $150,000.

But what if Naidu had not been Fijian and the racial vilification claim had been unavailable to him?

He would have needed to rely on the workers' compensation claim as his only means of redress.

Perhaps this is why bullying and harassment have become the focus of workplace health and safety laws in recent years.

These laws do not rely on individual workplace insurance policies in the same way that workers' compensation does.

Workplace health and safety laws provide safety standards that are monitored by an independent regulator, which can prosecute for breaches.

In the ACT, bullying has been the subject of such laws since 2008, when a code of practice for preventing and responding to workplace bullying was implemented.

A code of practice is a standard that WorkSafe ACT sets.

It's the minimum standard that workplaces must meet when dealing with bullying.

The code can be used as evidence of discharge of an employer's duty to do everything reasonably practicable to provide staff with a safe workplace.

In the ACT, this means an employer must:

  • Identify bullying risk factors.
  • Assess and control the risk factors.
  • Provide training to staff on how to handle bullying in the workplace.
  • Encourage reporting of bullying behaviour.
  • Properly investigate complaints of bullying behaviour.
  • Act on outcomes of investigations into bullying behaviour.

In Victoria, ''Brodie's law'' was recently introduced in a further effort to stamp out bullying in the workplace.

This legislative change extends the definition of the offence of stalking in the Crimes Act to include behaviours that are typical of workplace bullying.

These changes mean it is not only employers who will be liable for damage caused by bullying in the workplace: individuals who engage in bullying are now potentially liable for criminal sanction, including up to 10 years in jail.

There has been much debate about whether a similar law should be introduced at the federal level.

However, until that sort of change takes place, ACT employees will be restricted to the kind of investigation and criminal sanction available under workplace health and safety laws.

The renewed focus on workplace bullying is a timely reminder that these laws give victims a useful alternative to other legal claims.

WorkSafe ACT's recent investigation into bullying at the CIT emphasises the importance of employers treating bullying seriously, and that failing to do so can lead to a very public naming and shaming process.

Employees can feel safe knowing that, even if identifying other legal avenues for redress is difficult, workplace health and safety laws provide a good avenue for independent investigation into bullying complaints.

 

Victims have ways to end workplace bullying, Jennifer Wyborn, NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Employment & Industrial Law, http://www.meyervandenberg.com.au/our-team/leadership/jennifer-wyborn, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/victims-have-ways-to-end-workplace-bullying-20120903-259bg.html

Tony Carbone : Norwicki Carbone, Victoria.

Lawyer Tony Carbone,  http://www.nowickicarbone.com.au/contactus.html  managing partner of Nowicki Carbone, said there was a huge increase in the number of people approaching them with complaints of bullying.

"The sad thing about ... these cases in general, is that you can't see an injury. It's psychiatric," Mr Carbone said.

"What these bullies are doing is effectively destroying lives. ... There are other people out there who are destroyed."

 

Mr F. Gouldson : Gouldson Legal, Queensland.

A female teacher began work as a LOTE- Japanese teacher at Albany Creek State High School, Queensland,  in 2006.

The LOTE teacher used the description of bullying behaviours provided in the booklet "Workplace Bullying - An Employer's Guide" to support her complaint that she was being bullied at work.

DA Swan, Deputy president of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, found that there had been-

"a continued course of conduct by ... (Mr Swan named another teacher) ...  towards the appellant which has been completely unreasonable."

and that-

"The injury suffered by the appellant did not arise out of, or in the course of, "reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way".

And he ordered that the LOTE teacher be compensated.

 

Mr R. Lynch, Counsel, was instructed by Mr F. Gouldson of Gouldson Legal for the LOTE teacher.

 

Gouldson Legal offer their services on a No win - No fee basis.

They have a freecall number on 1800 677 923.

Malcolm Gray, Barrister : Melbourne, Victoria.

In 2009 Werribee Secondary College Humanities teacher Paul Unsworth was awarded up to $140,000 by a magistrate who ruled that his depression and stress were aggravated during a performance review at the school.

Paul Unsworth claimed he was bullied and harassed by the principal and other senior staff at Werribee Secondary College over a period of three years.

He sued the Education Department over the alleged culture of punishment and retribution at the school.

 

Two other teachers also had WorkCover claims against Werribee Secondary College over similar issues, Mr Unsworth told Melbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday

 

An email from western region director Brett New was accidentally sent to Mr Unsworth and the two other teachers.

The email offered full support for Werribee principal Steve Butyn's disciplinary actions.

"My perception was that I had no chance of getting a fair hearing," Mr Unsworth said.

 

Mr Unsworth's barrister, Malcolm Gray, http://www.australianlawyersdirectory.com.au/10027/gray-malcolm , said Mr Unsworth could expect to get up to $140,000 over 130 weeks period if his medical status remained the same.

Any payments after that would depend on further medical assessments.

The department were ordered to pay Mr Unsworth's costs.

 

Teacher savagely attacked with a garden stake at Werribee school, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, 21 May 2010 : http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/teacher-savagely-attacked-with-a-garden-stake-at-werribee-school/story-e6frf7kx-1225869369183

Teacher seeks bullying payout, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, 20 July 2010 : http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/teacher-seeks-bullying-payout/story-e6frf7kx-1225894301900

Shine Lawyers : Bundaberg, Queensland.

Shine Lawyers are representing a Bundaberg teacher, Valissa Julieta Bauer, who claims that she had to over-use her voice in an attempt to control her composite Year 6 and 7 class at Thabeban State School.

Ms Bauer claims that the class included 31 Special Needs children.

She is suing the Queensland Government over a lack of adequate classroom assistance.

Ms Bauer's claim is for almost $420,009 in damages for personal injury.

Her claim includes general damages, past economic loss, future impairment of her earning capacity to age 65 and medical expenses.

 

Bundaberg teacher claims $400,000 damages from injuries to larynx from yelling at students, The Sunday Mail : 11 July 2010.

Robyn Davies : Trilby Misso

Robyn Davies said that Trilby Misso is receiving at least 12 enquiries per month from people who are suffering extreme stress or depression caused by bullying in the workplace.

“This is double the number of enquiries we were getting a year ago.

 Bullying is now among the most common complaints we receive from workers seeking compensation,” Ms Davies said.

“But we believe that these numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg.

People who phone us are usually at their wits end, having tried to improve the situation over a period of months or even years.

Complaints to their employers often fall on deaf ears.

They keep trying to cope but the longer they do the worse their symptoms get until they reach the stage where they are suffering severe anxiety that requires medical intervention.”

Ms Davies said companies which failed to adequately protect their employees were liable for the mental anguish and depression caused by their failure to act.

“It is a major occupational health and safety issue but some employers just don’t get it,” she said.

“All employers have a duty of care to their employees to provide a safe workplace and this should include ensuring their safety from bullying in all its forms.”

Andrew Lidden, Frederick Jordan Chambers, New South Wales.

Andrew Lidden acted for Margaretta Slingsby, 58, a teacher at Lismore Heights Public School in northern NSW.

In about March 2005 a nine-year-old student called her "f***ing Slingsby slut".

Margaretta took time off from work to recover from the shock of the student's abuse.

The child was involved in several other violent incidents at the school.

In May 2005 the same student kicked and scratched Margaretta and then ripped her hair out.

Margaretta was depressed after the student's second attack.

She couldn't sleep.

She is now unable to teach and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

She is suing the NSW Education Department for negligence.

Andrew Lidden, SC, is Margaretta Slingsby's barrister.

Margaretta claims that the NSW Education Department was negligent in  -

  • failing to ascertain the student's history of violence and abuse,
  • failing to suspend him after the March incident,
  • and enrolling him in the school when it is not safe for his teachers or for the other students.

 

Gillian Klanke : Trilby Misso Lawyers, Queensland.

 Trilby Misso Lawyers  acted for a 49-year-old female Queensland teacher who is suing the Queensland Department of Education.

The teacher alleges that she has suffered years of bullying by the female head of special education services at a special needs school in south-eastern Queensland.

And a 44 year old female teacher's aide at the same special school has made similar allegations.

Trilby Misso Lawyers have issued a statement concerning verbal abuse, violent behaviour, etc.

The teacher and the teacher's aide had both complained to the school principal and to Education Queensland.

But the principal and Education Queensland both seemed to "turn a blind eye" to the situation.

Lawyer Gillian Klanke said that, after years of verbal abuse and intimidation, the teacher finally suffered a completed breakdown.

Trilby Misso Lawyers are preparing a notice of claim against WorkCover.

  • Teacher sues alleging years of bullying, Angela Harper, 9NEWS, Monday 7 September, 2009.

But -

Law firm Trilby Misso chases client for $123,00 despite 'no win, no fee' mantra, Kay Dibben, The Sunday Mail, 29 May 2011 :

http://www.couriermail.com.au/business/law-firm-trilby-misso-chases-client-for-123000-despite-no-win-no-fee-mantra/story-e6freqmx-1226064717687

Thady Blundell : Turner Freeman Lawyers

Thady Blundell, of Turner Freeman Lawyers, said the firm had acted for two Queensland teachers who developed mesothelioma after asbestos exposure.

Turner Freeman Lawyers are also representing other teachers who have been exposed to asbestos.

Bill McMillan : McMillan Legal

Bill McMillan of McMillan Legal acted for Ruth Fussell, a Queensland teacher who had worked at the Brisbane School of Distance Education for 13 years.

In October 2005 Ms Fussell was informed that she was going to be transferred to Marsden State High School in January 2006.

In May 2006 the principal of Marsden State High School advised Ms Fussell that she was going to be placed on a Managing Unsatisfactory Performance ( MUP ) plan.

Ms Fussell became ill after this meeting and has been unable to work since ( to 24 June 2009 ).

Ms Fussell claimed compensation.

WorkCover Queensland and Q-COMP both rejected Ms Fussell's claim for compensation.

But the Brisbane Magistrates's Court found that the Queensland Department of Education had unreasonably failed to -

 * forsee and to take adequate account of the difficulties Ms Fussell faced in adjusting from her previous teaching work at the Brisbane School of Distance Education.

 * provide Ms Fussell with the necessary support.

 * provide Ms Fussell with the necessary training.

 * take account of the difficulty in teaching a program without having had the necessary training.

 

And Ms Fussell's appeal was allowed.

She will be compensated.

Ms Fussell's case in more detail.

http://www.qcomp.com.au/qwcdec/decision_search/decision_docs/Fussell,%20Jill%20Ruth.htm

Bill McMillan of McMillan Legal.

Bill McMillan also acted for Megan Hastie of the Brisbane School of Distance Education in her application to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal of Queensland.

Megan was working in Cairns.

She was transferred to the Brisbane School of Distance Education ( BSDE ) on 25 January 2001 till 19 December 2003.

But then she received a letter to advise her that she had been transfered again to Rainworth State School from 24 January 2002.

Megan appealed this transfer because she had settled herself and her three very young children in St Lucia in order to be close to BSDE.

Scott Smith, Principal Personnel Officer, advised Megan in writing that she had been transferred "in order to place more teachers at Brisbane School of Distance Education who would be able to provide travel services to students and with your family responsibilites in mind ..."

Megan made an application for an order under S.144 of the Anti-Discrimination act 1991that this was discrimination against her on the basis of the attribute of parental status and / or family responsibilities.

Walter Sofronoff, President of the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal of Queensland ordered that John Ryan, Scott Smith, etc. not transfer Megan to Rainworth State School or to any other place of work.

More details of Megan Hastie V. John Ryan, Jeff Hunt, Scott Smith, etc. of the Queensland Department of Education.

Robin Napper, independent forensic investigator, West Australia

On March 30, 2006, at 11.58pm, 15-year-old Patrick Waring was ordered out of bed by the West Australian police, charged with rape and remanded, with a bail hearing set for the following Monday.

Patrick, awaiting trial in jail, was beaten up and routinely strip-searched.

After three months of this, the family turned for help to Robin Napper, an independent forensic investigator and former British detective superintendent :

http://netk.net.au/Experts/Napper.asp

Napper quickly discovered a litany of basic policing errors.

''If the police ever get a hold of you, you can find yourself on an express train that is very hard to get off," says filmmaker Ed Punchard.

Although this is not a teacher's case, it could be quicker and cheaper for you to employ a private investigator rather than a solicitor and, if you are in WA, Robin Napper seems to have intelligence and integrity.

But please remember that I have no legal qualifications - you have to make up your own mind about this.

 

A parent's worst nightmare, Tim Elliot,  SBS, 7 June 2010 :  http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/a-parents-worst-nightmare-20100602-wyxx.html?autostart=1

Hopgood Ganim Lawyers

Andrew Tobin of Hopgood Ganim Lawyers is interested in the industrial environment in Australian schools (primarily in the private sector).

It is important for you to understand that Hopgood Ganim Lawyers usually work for the employers rather than for the employees.

But Andrew Tobin is willing to speak to individuals about their workplace concerns.

And his advice to employers is also useful for individual employees.

Andrew Tobin writes -

The South Australian Supreme Court has awarded almost $400,000 to Mr McDonald, a former school teacher who had been overworked, bullied and harassed.

The court found that the Department of Education and Children Services (DECS) had breached its implied duty of trust and confidence by-

  • failing to manage the teacher's workload
  • and failing to respond to the teacher's complaints.

Mr McDonald wrote a letter of resignation on 23 January 2001, stating that he was constructively dismissing himself and would sue the school for constructive dismissal.

Mr McDonald resigned in 2003.

At that time, he was suffering from an adjustment disorder with anxiety and other illnesses.

He maintained he was constructively dismissed.

Decision

The Court decided that DECS had breached its implied duty of trust and confidence, duty of care and duty of good faith to Mr McDonald in:

1. failing to manage, or attempting to manage, Mr McDonald's health and welfare;

2. failing to adequately address Mr McDonald's grievances;

3. failing to consult Mr McDonald over staffing decisions in the area for which he was responsible (the Court described this as sinister);

4. not clarifying Mr McDonald's role;

5. failing to tell other staff not to ask Mr McDonald to fix computer problems;

6. failing to grant Mr McDonald an interview for the co-ordinator's position which he had previously performed.

The Court also decided that Mr McDonald had been subject to victimisation.

The school principal had demeaned Mr McDonald when he complained about being victimised.

 It was clear to the Court that the school was attempting to force him out.

The Court said that Mr McDonald's resignation in 2003 amounted to a constructive dismissal on the basis that there was an irretrievable breakdown in the employment relationship.

And that it would not have been reasonable for Mr McDonald to put up with the employer's conduct.

  

This case ... highlights the potential actions available to employees faced with victimisation and bullying in the workplace.

Employers considering 'managing out' an employee should think carefully about the implications of these kinds of actions and should ensure any performance management process is handled in a considerate and transparent manner.

Communicating with employees is vital in reducing the risk associated with stress claims.

 

© HopgoodGanim Lawyers    Level 8 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane.

Australia's Best Value Professional Services Firm - 2005 and 2006 BRW-St.George Client Choice Awards

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter.

Specific questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author, Andrew Tobin:   http://www.hopgoodganim.com.au/Profile.aspx?EntityId=103564  

Hopgood Ganim Lawyers

Andrew Tobin of Hopgood Ganim Lawyers has also written an interesting guide to workplace bullying for employers -

 Eliminating Workplace Bullying and Harassment : April 2009.

The article is well worth reading for definitions, special risk situations and the impact of workplace bullying on the victim.

It also contains some really interesting quotes -

 

"If a corporate employer commits an offence under the Act, so too does every executive officer associated with it ..."

 

"It is ... important the employers identify any workers with ineffective managerial styles as these behaviours may contribute to workplace harassment."

 

Hopwood Ganim Lawyers, Level 8 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane.

Australia's Best Value Professional Services Firm - 2005 and 2006 BRW-St.George Client Choice Awards

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter.

Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author, Andrew Tobin:   http://www.hopgoodganim.com.au/Profile.aspx?EntityId=103564  

Hopgood Ganim Lawyers

Andrew Tobin and Jessica Paten of Hopgood Ganim Lawyers have also written another guide for employers -

2007 Performance Management Processes

This article also contains some interesting quotes -

In 2004-2005 ... the Australian education sector experienced a 32% increase in compensated claims.

Education was the only Australian industry to experience an increase in incidence rates of injury or illness.

"In the current context an employer's primary concern, in order to avoid liability for a claim made under the Woprkers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (QLD) during the course, or as a result of, performance management of an employee, will be to act and to be seen to act reasonably, that is, by taking "reasonable management action ... in a reasonable way".

The meaning of "in a reasonable way" is discussed.

The 5 pillars of risk management in the workplace harassment context are interesting -

Employers should -

(a) Look for hazards.

I presume this means that the Department of Education has a responsibility to actively look for Workplace Bully principals.

(e) Monitor and review the effectiveness of the control measure.

The article also discusses the importance of -

"training those responsible for giving effect to relevant procedures and processes.

The best systems in the world are pointless if those charge with implementing them are ignorant of how to do so."

I agree.

It is negligent to appoint a principal or acting school principal who has no knowledge of the official procedures and processes.

It places the classroom teachers at that school at risk of harm.

Queensland school principals should be required to demonstrate knowledge of the official procedures and processes before they are appointed.

And principals should be able to demonstrate -

  • a capacity to comprehend,
  • and a willingness to comply with the official procedures and processes

before they are appointed.

 

Hopwood Ganim Lawyers, Level 8 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane.

Australia's Best Value Professional Services Firm - 2005 and 2006 BRW-St.George Client Choice Awards

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter.

Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author, Andrew Tobin:   http://www.hopgoodganim.com.au/Profile.aspx?EntityId=103564  

Cynthia Kardell of Whistleblowers Australia says -

Teachers : Stay in the driver’s seat!

When it comes to Workers Compensation, you need to be strategic.

Decide whether you want to return to work or not, and then stay in the driver’s seat.

There’s plenty of time to bring a worker’s compensation claim at the end, when you’ve successfully got yourself back to work on your own terms.

Think about when you make a motor vehicle accident claim.

Once you make the claim, you’ve legally given your insurer the right to decide what’s to be done: even to the point of being able to sell your car back to you if you don’t want it written off.

Workers compensation insurance is no different.

Once you make your claim, your employer is legally entitled to involve itself in your affairs and dictate how, when what and why.

Your employer gets to be in the driver’s seat and largely in tandem with their agent, the insurer.

It’s an all too familiar story -

Your own doctor’s views are no longer seen to be important.

You have to see their psychiatrist, not yours.

Their psychiatrist invariably operates on your employer’s version of your history, not yours.

Some awful things happen.

A person once told me how, as he said goodbye, the psychiatrist grasped his hand, saying to him sympathetically, "I bet you feel like killing the bastards sometimes".

The whistleblower grimaced, barely raising a smile.

You guessed it: the psychiatrist's report came back with something like, "He shook his fist at me, shouting he’d kill the bastards".

People do bad things for very little reason sometimes, and money makes it all too easy.

But if you use your own leave entitlements, then you, with your doctor, stay in the driver’s sear.

Your employer generally can’t direct you to see anyone without your agreement and has to take notice of your doctor’s instructions.

You would need to make sure your doctor is kept fully informed on a regular basis.

All your medical certificates should provide details of your symptoms and sheet home the blame to your employer.

If you don’t have a doctor, get one.

Get a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Your doctors should keep a detailed record of what’s going on.

Then, after you get back to work or decide to leave you can put in what is known as a ‘closed period’ workers compensation claim.

Plus you‘ll have the only record and the best record.

It’s known as a closed period claim, because it is for a set period and made after the fact.

You would be claiming all the usual things: monetary reimbursement for the leave entitlements you’ve used, all related expenses and compensation if applicable.

So stay in the driver’s seat

You can do the same if you opt for medical retirement: but use your leave entitlements upfront and then claim them back at the point you leave work, because that way you stay in control of your affairs for as long as you can.

Note every employer in Queensland, unless a licensed self insurer, must have a workers compensation insurance policy with WorkCover QLD.

In other states the WorkCover authority is just one of the insurers and is also responsible for workplace health and safety regulation.

In Queensland, the Workplace Health and Safety division of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations oversees all workplace health and safety.

Cynthia Kardell is National President of Whistleblowers Australia.

This article is adapted from Cynthia's article on p.13 of the April 2010 issue of The Whistle.

What I have learned about solicitors -

The experience of one Queensland woman whose husband was wrongly accused of child s-x abuse will give you an idea how the life of an ordinary, innocent Queenslander can be destroyed by Queensland public servants -

The woman's husband was wrongly accused of child s-x abuse.

The Families Department illegally shredded the child abuse investigation documents.

The woman lost her job.

After investigating for three and a half years, Fred Albeitz, the Ombudsman, recommended that she be compensated.

She has been waiting for the compensation for more than ten years.

She believes that she will get justice.

She has spent $117,000 on legal costs.

She may lose her home.

In September 1998 Peter Beattie said that he would be an "honest broker" and bring a speedy resolution to the matter.

Anna Bligh was Families Minister.

Allan Male was Director-General.

Ken Smith was the next Director-General. He unreservedly apologised.

Her Supreme Court application seeking leave to proceed with her case was unsuccessful.

(Why?)

An appeal in 2003 was unsuccessful.

The State Government employed Queen and Senior counsels to fight the case.

She is now communicating with Linda Apelt, the Director- General of the new Communities department, which is now responsible for the Families Department files.

Not only do senior public servants and ministers continually change jobs, they also change the names of their departments.

So it is very hard to hold Ministers and public servants responsible for anything.

Fight to right legal bungle, Margaret Wenham, The Courier-Mail, 26 December 2006.

 

A 44-year-old teacher's aide at the same southeastern Queensland state school has also come forward with similar allegations against the same boss.

The teacher alleges she suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of working with the "abusive, volatile and manipulative" boss.

"She would yell, she would scream at you in front of other staff and students, she would slam her hands on the desk and she would write highly critical notes and put them in your pigeon hole," she said in a statement issued by Trilby Misso lawyers.

"People were frightened of her."

When she took stress leave, the superior came to her home and continued to contact her, the teacher says.

"She was trying to intimidate me."

The teacher and 44-year-old female teacher's aide, who wish to remain anonymous, had both complained to the school principal and Education Queensland.

But both had turned a blind eye, the teachers' lawyers say.

Lawyer Gillian Klanke said the teacher had suffered a complete breakdown after years of verbal abuse and intimidation over a number of years at the school.

"The teacher and one of her colleagues have suffered psychological injuries as a result of the mistreatment from the head of special education services at the school," she said.

The law firm is preparing a notice of claim against WorkCover as the insurer of Education Queensland for one of the women.

Ms Klanke said the behaviour of the department head went unchecked because the principal, who recently retired, turned a blind eye to the situation.

A spokeswoman from Education Queensland told AAP it would be difficult to go into any detail about the case because of privacy issues.

 

Teacher sues over 'bullying', Angela Harper, Northern Star, 7 September 2009 http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2009/09/07/teacher-sues-alleging-years-of-bullying/

 

Now, I do not know if these women ever actually went to court, but to my mind they had their say - their allegations were published and other teachers were warned about what was 'going on' at the school.

They were not identified - their lawyer did the talking for them.

And the women were not committed to huge legal fees or the stress of a long legal battle.

If I was starting my own 'case' again, I would consider this option.

 

Please note :

 I can't tell you which solicitor is the best solicitor - I have no legal qualifications at all.

 I do not receive any commission or benefit of any kind whatsoever from any individual or organisation mentioned on this website.

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