Career and Workplace Counselling – What Does Not Constitute Workplace Bullying and Harassment – A Judges Findings

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Learn what does not constitute Workplace Bullying and Harrassment... A judges determination

Learn what does not constitute Workplace Bullying and Harassment… A judges determination


This morning one came across an interesting article (Man who claimed boss dubbed ‘Mr Stinky’ would ‘lift his bum and fart’ on him loses $1.8 million case) by Frank Chung of the who reported on the outcome of a claimant who bought forward a case for Psychiatric and Physical Illness and Bullying against his former employer.

As a Counsellor and Career Development Specialist one frequently speaks with clients about bullying in the workplace, that is to help clients define the term, to listen in order to facilitate the client in expressing, processing and healing their experience(s).

In this case a claimant Mr. David Hinsgt, presented a case for psychiatric and physical injuries as a result of been bullied in the workplace.  That is, he alleged his former supervisor, Mr. Greg Short, regularly farted in a confined space near him; which Mr. Hingst found highly offensive.

The article goes on to state the claimant regularly received phone calls for 5 to 6 weeks prior to his termination about his performance, in which he was verbally abused; and in other incidents was aggressively questioned about his sexual preferences.

The judge, Justice Zammitt found that the claimant was an unreliable and unsatisfactory witness.  That if the claimant had not lost his job or been abused over the telephone then this would not be a big issue.  Thus, the article states that because of Mr. Hingst feelings regarding his termination, that he acted in an extreme and unreasonable way – seeking revenge and as such found no depressive or stress related condition as a result.

So, my question to you is do you think Justice Zammit got it right with respect to his ruling?  And what impact do you think the judge’s findings will have on future bullying and harassment cases if a precedent has been set where offensive and inappropriate behaviour is seen as “typical banter or mucking about” in the workforce.

From ones’ perspective, one perceives that if Mr. Hingst sought qualified legal representation, gathered and presented strong evidentiary support as proof of statement of claim in a logical and systematic fashion that it is possible that the outcome would have been different.

Ones concern as a lay person though, is that Justice Zammit’s ruling has now set a precedent for inappropriate, offensive or abusive behaviour in the workplace and that if one was to experience such behaviour in the workplace one would not have a recourse to address the incident(s) or impact on ones physical, psychological or emotional self – legally speaking.

Hmm interesting food for thought.

Author: Katherine J Foster – Career Development Specialist and Counsellor – 14th May 2018

About Author: – Katherine is the Founder of Blu Ripples a specialist Career Counselling and Consulting practice located in Port Stephens NSW.  Katherine is a nationally registered Career Development Specialist and Counsellor; is a Professional Member of the Career Development Association of Australia, Member of the Australian Counselling Association of Australia and Australian Association for Psychological Type. Katherine has worked in private practice since 2003 and prior to that worked in the corporate sector for a period of 12 years predominantly in Human Resources and Administration.

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