Worksafe Victoria has recently secured a conviction and hefty financial penalties against Melbourne security firm Monjon (Australia) Pty Ltd and it's director, John Bernard Moncrieff, following incidents of bullying and harassment of its staff.
During the hearing, the Magistrates' Court heard descriptions of various troubling incidents occurring in the Cheltenham office of the company between April 2015 and August 2016, including a situation where Mr Moncrieff pushed a female employee along a corridor in front of other co-workers. The Court was also told that Mr Moncrieff would speak to employees in an aggressive and intimidating manner by raising his voice, swearing, using sexist and racist language to describe employees, making sexually suggestive comments towards employees, threatening to withhold pay, and encouraging managers to speak aggressively to employees.
Following an investigation by WorkSafe Victoria, both Mr Moncrieff and the company each pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to provide a working environment that was, as far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. The company was fined $97,000 and Mr Moncrieff was personally fined an additional $19,250.
Previously, Worksafe investigations were often limited to incidents where there was a serious physical injury or risk to the physical health of employees. However, over time, there has been a gradual acknowledgement of the significant damage toxic and aggressive workplaces can have on the mental well-being of employees, and the importance of eliminating these cultures through criminal convictions if necessary.
The conviction of Mr Moncrieff and Monjon is one of a small but growing collection of criminal convictions for directors and companies whose work environment endangers the mental health of their employees. Previous cases have included a carpenter who verbally bullied and harassed an 18 year old apprentice, and a cafǸ who was found to be operating without adequate protections or procedures in place to prevent it's staff from bullying and harassment.
The impact of such behaviour can be devastating and long lasting. It is not uncommon for victims to struggle with depression and anxiety and for their capacity to return to any sort of paid employment to be compromised.
In these situations, an injured worker can access assistance under the WorkCover system to counselling, medication and supplementary income while they receive treatment for their injuries. In some circumstances, these injuries can be permanent and can significantly alter a person's ability to function and perform their activities of daily living.
Lodging a WorkCover claim can be a daunting task, particularly when you are already struggling to cope emotionally and financially. If you or someone you know requires assistance, we invite you to contact Redlich's Work Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 and speak to one of our expert injury lawyers.