The latest industry insights into compensation law.

Shining the light on toxic workplaces: your rights

The Ellen DeGeneres show has fallen under heavy scrutiny in the last few weeks due to allegations of a toxic workplace culture.

It comes as an internal investigation by Warner Media continues into a series of shocking allegations by past and current employees who described a “toxic work environment” with a culture of “racism, fear and intimidation”.

They also claimed there was widespread sexual misconduct among the top executives at the show.

As a result of the allegations, Channel 9 has removed the show and replaced the timeslot with re-runs of Desperate Housewives. This is arguably not a significant improvement to the viewing content but it does highlight the stronger focus that is being placed on workers in general by no longer hiding or supporting workplaces that mistreat their staff.

The recent stories regarding The Ellen DeGeneres show might be of some comfort to Queensland employees who are being mistreated in letting them know they are not alone and they do have rights.

If you are a worker in Queensland and you suffer from a psychological injury as a result of mistreatment, bullying, harassment or intimidation in the workplace, you may be entitled to lodge a claim with WorkCover Queensland.

For psychological or psychiatric injuries which have arisen out of, or in the course of employment, from 29 October 2013 to 29 October 2019, the law requires employment to be the major significant contributing factor to the injury. After 30 October 2019, the law requires employment to be the significant contributing factor to the injury.

However, the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 specifically excludes psychiatric or psychological disorders arising out of, or in the course of:

  • reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way by the employer in connection with a worker’s employment;
  • a worker’s expectation or perception of reasonable management action being taken against the worker;
  • action by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator or an insurer in connection with a worker’s application for compensation.

What constitutes “reasonable management action” can often be challenging to navigate. It is quite often the case that on top of working in a toxic environment, workers are also involved in disputes with their manager about performance, actions taken to change a workers’ duties which they disagree with or reasonable disciplinary action.

It is quite often the case that workers’ are placed in a situation where they are suffering psychological symptoms due to harassment and bullying but also undergoing performance management which exacerbates their psychological condition.

It is essential to separate the behaviours of the employer/manager to determine if there has been any behaviour from management that would constitute an entitlement to lodge a claim with WorkCover Queensland.

Workers also have access to early support services whilst they are waiting for their claim to be determined. Support services available until the claim is determined may include:

  • General practitioner appointments
  • Counselling or psychology sessions
  • Psychiatry appointments
  • Psychotropic medication
  • Mediation services
  • Costs associated with attendance at a Hospital Emergency Department or treatment (as an outpatient only)

vbr Lawyers are highly specialised in all types ofworkers’ compensation claimsand are always happy to have an obligation free chat if you feel you are suffering a psychological injury as a result of a toxic workplace.

Senior Associate
Beth has been working in the area of compensation law since 2011 and was admitted as a Solicitor in 2012. Beth is passionate in ensuring those who have been wronged are appropriately compensated.
Sean is proud to be a lawyer for everyday people no matter what their issue. He has practised in compensation law for all his legal career and he has a superb track record of achieving outstanding results for his clients.

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State updated!
Your state has been updated to QLD. Practice areas on compensation law have been updated.