Statement on Dimity Paul and State Government inquiry into workplace bullying

28 July 2015
The Andrews Government has now released its report into allegations of bullying and intimidation by Adem Somyurek, State Government minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade.

These allegations were made by the Minister’s Chief of Staff Dimity Paul as well as a Ministerial Adviser. Maurice Blackburn has acted for Ms Paul throughout the investigation.

Adverse findings have been made against the Minister. The investigator has found that Minister Somyurek engaged in intimidating and bullying behavior against Ms Paul and another member of his staff.  

Josh Bornstein, head of employment law at Maurice Blackburn, said the situation Ms Paul found herself in at work was unsafe and intolerable.

“A political workplace is still a workplace – and people who choose a career in government or politics should not have to operate under different rules about respectful conduct at work. 

“This case shows that workplace bullying is an issue that occurs across all sectors and all types of workplaces,” said Mr Bornstein.

“I congratulate the Premier Daniel Andrews for his swift and decisive action. The issues that confronted Premier Andrews were a challenge for him and the Victorian Government. The Premier has demonstrated a zero tolerance approach to bullying at work and physical intimidation of workers – including those in government.

“Throughout the investigation process, Dimity Paul has complied with directions not to make public comment about the events leading up to her making a complaint. The process has not been easy for her.  Much of the witness material produced by Adem Somyurek did not deal with the allegations made by Ms Paul. Rather, it sought to disparage and attack her character and competence. Not only was such material irrelevant to the allegations being investigated, it was designed to cause maximum damage to Ms Paul’s reputation.

“Unfortunately, employees who blow the whistle on workplace bullying are at risk of retaliatory hostile action and this case underlined this risk.”

“In addition, Ms Paul was subjected to unprecedented attacks on her personal and professional reputation by the Herald Sun newspaper. I cannot think of another occasion where a woman complainant involved in a workplace investigation has been subjected to coverage like this. She has been repeatedly criticized and had personal images of her reproduced all with the apparent aim of trivializing her allegations of workplace bullying and traducing her reputation.

“No person who is complaining about workplace bullying should have to tolerate this.

“Contrary to the politically motivated comments published, Ms Paul took action to stop the bullying to protect her own health and that of her colleagues.

“Ms Paul is looking forward to a speedy return to work.” 

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