Workplace bully receives hefty personal fine

By Portner Press on May 10th, 2019
  1. Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination
  2. Bullying in the Workplace

WorkSafe Victoria has convicted and fined a manager for bullying a storeman.

Matthew John Sallama, the son of the owner of the now-liquidated John’s Nuts, pleaded guilty in Sunshine Magistrate’s Court to breaching the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

He was ordered to pay $7,500 plus $2,000 costs.

The court heard that over a six-month period Mr Sallama engaged in bullying behaviour towards the storeman that included:

  • using profane language when speaking to him;
  • using belittling, degrading, or offensive language when speaking to him;
  • speaking to him in an aggressive, intimidating or abusive manner;
  • threatening to deduct e-tag work travel expenses from his pay;
  • threatening to burn his wages;
  • threatening to dismiss him; and
  • threatening not to pay for his immigration visa.

WorkSafe said that the bullying behaviour exposed the storeman to distress, depression, fearfulness and tearfulness, which were health and safety risks.

Adam Watson, Acting Executive Director of Health and Safety for WorkSafe said that workplace bullying was an abhorrent practice that had to be stamped out.

“It poses a serious risk to a worker’s mental health, and the effects can have a lifelong impact – not only on the individual being bullied but their family as well,” he said.

“All employees have the right to go to work without fear of being bullied, harassed or singled-out while on the job, and all employers have a clear responsibility to take care of their workers’ mental and physical health and safety.”

Mr Watson said that John’s Nuts should be condemned for the appalling way it treated its worker and said he was pleased that the court held the same view.

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute any employer who fails to take action to stop this abhorrent behaviour in their workplace,” he said.

In December 2018, John’s Nuts received a company conviction and fine of $80,000 for the same bullying offence, as well as a $60,000 fine for a separate incident involving the same worker, where it had made late payments for a work injury claim and failed to provide suitable post-injury employment.

Workplace bullying could be putting your organisation at risk

Do you know how you can tackle it?

Read chapter B1 Bullying in the Health & Safety Handbook and find out.

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