Pirrone v Bostik Australia [2024] VCC 11

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By Stuart Eustice, Partner, Holly White, Associate, and Zoe Vlahogiannis, Lawyer

In the matter of Pirrone v Bostik Australia [2024] VCC 11, the County Court of Victoria was asked to consider whether the plaintiff was entitled to damages from the defendant as a result of claims of workplace bullying leading to mental injury.

Background

The plaintiff began working for the defendant in June 2013 as a warehouse despatch officer. The plaintiff alleged damages for mental injury resulting from fourteen incidents of bullying between early 2017 and May 2018.

The plaintiff’s allegations against the defendant involved incidents of direct and indirect bullying, unprofessional behaviours (for example humiliating exchanges between the plaintiff and her coworkers), claims the defendant threatened the plaintiff’s employment security and the attempted transfer of the plaintiff to a new work position.

The plaintiff argued her mental injury was caused by:

  • The defendant’s breach of the duty it owed her to take reasonable care for her safety by providing a safe place of work for her and a proper and safe system of conducting her work and efficient supervision of such work; and/or
  •  negligence of the defendant.

It was accepted by the defendant that the plaintiff had a mental injury, however what was in question was the cause of the mental injury.

Conclusion

The Court concluded that due to lack of concrete evidence, witness credibility issues, inconsistent testimonies and alternative explanations, the plaintiff’s allegations could not be proven or substantiated. As a result, further examination of breach, contributory negligence, causation, or damages was deemed unnecessary. The plaintiff’s application was dismissed.

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