Melbourne City Council sued over workplace bullying

19 June 2019
Leading employment law firm Maurice Blackburn has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the Melbourne City Council on behalf of an employee who alleges that he endured an extraordinary catalogue of severe and protracted workplace bullying.

Maurice Blackburn is representing Mr James Morton, a Park Ranger at the Council. The claim alleges that he was subjected to an appallingly cruel and protracted campaign of bullying by his manager. The bullying conduct included mocking and insulting him to colleagues, excluding him from work and team meetings, issuing baseless and invasive directions for him to attend medical appointments and deliberately sabotaging his applications for other roles.

When Mr Morton complained about his experiences at work to Melbourne City Council’s Human Resources department and more senior managers, the situation deteriorated. Following his complaints, Mr Morton was subjected to a workplace investigation into spurious allegations about his own conduct and suspended from work for more than 9 months. The allegations were investigated and found to be baseless.

Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein said Mr Morton had been subjected to unlawful conduct which breached the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act).

“The conduct alleged against the City of Melbourne in this case amounts to one of the most disturbing campaigns of workplace bullying that I have come across in my career. It was particularly cruel and humiliating. We will be asking the court to find that the City of Melbourne unlawfully weaponised workplace investigations and medical processes against our client after he blew the whistle on bullying at work”.

“I can only assume that this matter has not come to the attention of senior officers of the City of Melbourne. Once they are apprised of the facts in this case, I am sure that they will be as horrified by this case as I am.”

Mr Bornstein said: “The impact of this conduct on Mr Morton has been profound, and he is seeking compensation for the loss and damage he has suffered. This includes damage to his reputation, after the bully in this case spread baseless rumours about Mr Morton following his suspension. Mr Morton is also seeking orders compelling the City of Melbourne to undergo regular anti-bullying training and compliance reviews.”

“Protecting workers from bullying in the workplace should be the upmost priority for all employers, but especially the City of Melbourne, because of the important public role they play and the recent troubled history they have had in terms of workplace health and safety”.

Media inquiries: Paddy Murphy on 0490 297 391 or Jade Thompson on 0417 969 438.

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