1. Workplace Cliques – 2 April 2015
Meanwhile in an injury compensation case (Hardy v Blackwood), the Queensland IRC has held that the existence of workplace cliques (or the fact that people in the workplace dislike each other) does not necessarily constitute bullying and harassment. A council employee alleged psychiatric injury resulting from workplace bullying from 2009-2011. She had kept records of interactions with other staff over a number of years, and alleged 50 “stressors” which she argued had contributed towards her injury, including being directed to perform work outside of her job description (including work of an employee who had resigned, stocktaking, and organising birthday cakes). She said colleagues had yelled at her, spoken in a hostile tone, and sent “terse” emails.
The IRC held that cliques did exist in the workplace, and that poor behaviour made the workplace difficult and sometimes intense, and that it was apparent that a clique of employees did not like the claimant. However, that in itself was not bullying or harassment. The worker also behaved poorly in the workplace and one of the reasons for other employees avoiding her was to avoid confrontations, which they knew she would record in her diary. The claimant also sometimes substantially overreacted to “usual office activity”.