Quick Guide – Compensation for Mental Injuries at Work

Bullying in the workplace is unacceptable and employers have a responsibility to their staff to ensure they are treated fairly at all times. Bullying is repeated behaviour. A one-off instance of mistreatment is not bullying but can still cause a compensable injury. Unfortunately, in many instances employees are mistreated by their colleagues or even their employers, which can have upsetting consequences for an individual. Mistreatment at work can result in a mental injury, such as depression or anxiety, or exacerbate an existing condition. In these instances, it is possible to make a claim a claim for compensation.

The strength of your compensation claim rests on showing you were not injured during the course of “reasonable management action undertaken in a reasonable manner” by your employer. This means your employer must have treated you unreasonably.

You will also need to prove that your employer knew, or should have known, they were behaving in an unreasonable way that was likely to mentally injure you. This will be easier to prove if your employer is the person who treated you badly.

What about mistreatment by a co-worker?

Your employer has a duty of care to make sure that if a co-worker mistreats you, that person gets properly disciplined. However, your employer first needs to know about the mistreatment before they are expected to do something about it. It can be scary to talk to your boss about this sort of thing, but if you do it as soon as possible your case will be much stronger. They are likely to take any complaints very seriously because if they don’t the business will be liable.

Please note – even if you had a mental injury or illness before the incident(s), but feel the mistreatment made it worse, you can still make a claim.

Evidence

You should get documents together detailing the incident(s). This includes notes made by your doctor or psychologist, statements by any witnesses and a regularly updated diary about the incident and how it is making you feel. Write down the actual words or misdeeds, and when, who and where. It’s not enough to say someone ‘often’ or ‘always’ treated you badly. You have to be specific.

3 Things to Remember:

(1) If you have been mistreated by someone at work other than your boss – make sure your boss knows about it.

(2) Talk to your doctor/psychologist and keep a diary.

(3) Speak to a lawyer.