Resources: Blog

Commission orders parties to stop yelling in the workplace


Quiet, please

The Fair Work Commission recently issued interim orders in an application for orders to stop bullying, which required the parties to, amongst other things, treat each other with respect and dignity, and to not yell in an unreasonable manner.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently issued interim orders in an application for orders to stop bullying, which required the parties to, amongst other things, treat each other with respect and dignity, and to not yell in an unreasonable manner (see F.G. [2019] FWC 6283).

The stop-bullying application had been lodged by an employee of a retail services business who alleged that he was being bullied by a co-director and owner of the business. The application was made against a background in which the business was also involved in other litigation relating to the director’s separation from the business as an owner, and the director had also made allegations that she was being bullied by the employer.

In the stop-bullying application, the director had failed to participate in two scheduled conferences with the FWC on the basis that she was medically unfit to have any contact with her employer.

In the meantime, the applicant sought interim orders alleging that, despite the director’s medical certificates, she continued to attend the workplace as the owner, and she unreasonably engaged with the applicant about the stop-bullying application.

Without making any findings about the applicant’s allegations, the FWC considered that, on face value, the applicant had a strong case, and that the “balance of convenience” weighed in favour of making the interim orders.

The “balance of convenience” test required the FWC to consider whether the benefit to be granted by the interim orders outweighed the inconvenience likely to be suffered by any of the parties. In this regard, the FWC considered that:

  • there was a prospect that the director might make contact with the applicant in the workplace;
  • the substantive application was not going to be dealt with or resolved in the immediate future noting
  • the director’s medical condition and the ongoing litigation;
  • the director also claimed she had been bullied by the employer; and
  • the safety and health of all the parties was at risk.

Accordingly, the FWC granted interim orders to the following effect:

  • the parties were to treat each other with respect and dignity and were not to yell, belittle or otherwise conduct themselves in an unreasonable manner when communicating to each other about the business;
  • the parties were not to contact each other about work-related matters when outside of the workplace;
  • the parties were not to discuss the merit or otherwise of the stop-bullying application; and
  • the employer was to implement reasonable measures to ensure that the parties were aware of their obligations.

Lessons for employers

These orders address matters that are normally dealt with in a Code of Conduct and other workplace behaviour policies and, on one view, are matters that should be common sense to employees.

Nonetheless, this decision demonstrates the wide ambit of the FWC’s power to make orders (whether interim or final) in stop-bullying applications, including orders directed to the conduct of the parties or that intervene in the management of a workplace.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

The onus and presumption in adverse action matters

It’s on you

Under the general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), it is unlawful for a person to take adverse action against another person for a proscribed reason. One of the features of the general protections provisions under the FW Act is the presumption that adverse action was taken for a proscribed reason unless it is proven that the adverse action was not taken for that reason.


Key Takeaways from our Webinar

Managing Workplace Behaviour: "You Get What You Tolerate"

In our August webinar, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer, discussed the challenges faced by modern employers when managing workplace behaviour. In that webinar, Athena examined a number of recent unfair dismissal decisions of the Fair Work Commission which provide some good guidance for employers.


Managing employee conduct and behaviour in the workplace

Draw the line

Managing employee conduct and behaviour can be a challenge. The question of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate in the workplace will depend on a variety of factors, including the industry in which the employees work, the overall culture of the workplace and community standards at any given time.


Fair Work Commission accepts that role with additional travel time was acceptable redeployment employment

The daily commute

Employers have long known that they are obliged to try to find new employment opportunities for employees who are faced with the redundancy of their current role.


FWC upholds objection to constructive dismissal claim

Construction zone

In order to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction, an employee must be “dismissed” from their employment by the employer. One of the instances in which an employee may be “dismissed” from their employment is if they were forced to resign because of the employer’s conduct or course of conduct.


Court penalises accountant for involvement in employer’s failure to keep employee records

Put your records on

The Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) impose a number of obligations on employers with respect to the making and keeping of employee records and pay slips.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.