“Parliament allows a worker who has been bullied at work to apply to the Commission for an order for others to stop bullying.
Any application of alleged bullying is both inevitably, and importantly, highly contextual. However, the legislation does not provide for an applicant’s self-belief or self-conviction, to trump all other factors.
An applicant’s perspective has to be balanced against the conduct of others, including reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.
It is normal, so I am informed, to see patterns in clouds or among trees. However, we also see patterns where others do not – especially gamblers. Sometimes we are just overly sensitive to what is happening around us when we allegedly see a pattern.
Having a preference about how things should be done, like Mrs Gore, and suggestions not being agreed to by a supervisor, is not bullying. The choice is a matter for the supervisor. An employer gives a supervisor, a role and responsibilities. To deprive a supervisor of the ability to carry out their role in a reasonable way, as Mr Evans did, is not a breach of reasonable management action.
While Mrs Gore may be sincere in her beliefs and views, the anti-bullying provisions of the FW Act, are to protect bullying behaviour, not substantially a person’s feelings.
Having considered the facts and evidence, I am unable to conclude that Mrs Gore’s complaints of bullying are made out. The alleged bullying was over-estimated and insubstantial; in particular, there was no repetition of unreasonable behaviour.
The conduct of Ms Evans, Ms Chadwick and Mr Evans cannot be given the expansive view of bullying as submitted by Mrs Gore. If the Commission adopted such a submission, reasonable workplace behaviour and reasonable management action, would cede to a person’s feelings of being anxious or uncomfortable.
The facts and evidence, in this application, emphasise and reinforce that important distinction Parliament recognised between reasonable workplace conduct and a person having a self-belief or feelings of discomfort. Such self-belief or feelings does not automatically transform into bullying. Finally, I find, as Mrs Gore conceded, there was no risk to her health and safety by returning to work.
The application is dismissed.”
Re Gore (2016) FWC 2559 delivered 24 May 2016) per Cloghan C