December 10, 2023

‘Hostile and toxic environment’: Employee awarded $56k after leaving job where bullying began on first day

'Hostile and toxic environment': Employee awarded $56k after leaving job where bullying began on first day

A woman who was bullied from her first day at a job and ultimately resigned from the “hostile and toxic” workplace has been awarded more than $56,000.

Katherine McIntyre began as an administrative assistant at a Workingman’s Club in May 2021. In her job, she was employed to assist two people, who are identified only as X and P. McIntyre shared an office with X.

In an Employment Relations Authority determination, she said she experienced bullying from X from the start of her employment and she tried to raise concerns about this within the first three weeks of the job.  

It was found that she was “unnecessarily” yelled at on her first day by X and this raised voice was a regular feature of his management. McIntyre also wasn’t given work or trained in tasks that made up most of her job description, was “ignored”, and “belittled” when seeking to pass on an email and phone message.

McIntyre attempted to approach X directly about her concerns, but this was unsuccessful.

She then asked P to have a meeting with her and X to try and resolve the issues. But during this, McIntyre said that X would interject or ignore her and the behaviour he showed was the behaviour she had been trying to address.

McIntyre felt that P didn’t do anything to help at that meeting.

An investigation into McIntyre’s bullying claims in June 2021 found the allegations were true, but she wasn’t told this until three months later.

She continued to experience behaviour from X she considered to be bullying and in November, she was placed on sick leave by her doctor for work-related stress.

While on leave, she sent a letter to P and the interim committee of the Club saying that unless the situation was resolved satisfactorily before her return to work on November 12, she would have no option but to resign.

Three days later, McIntyre told P and the interim committee that she wanted to tender her resignation effective immediately. She said she hadn’t had contact from the Club except to drop off the investigation report and felt this lack of acknowledgement showed “they were happy for her to resign and no longer wished to employ her”.

“I can no longer work in the hostile and toxic environment that permeates throughout the Club. This is mostly instigated by X’s condescending and belittling ways, not only of me but of other staff members,” McIntyre wrote in her resignation letter.

The Club acknowledged McIntyre’s complaint wasn’t dealt with promptly after the investigation report was received and before she resigned. 

The Club was ordered to pay $26,465.40 for reimbursement of lost wages and $30,000 in compensation.

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