Ms SB (AB2014/1035) [2014] FWC 2104 (12 May 2014)

Main issue: Definition of “reasonable management action”

Background:

A manager made an application for stop-bullying orders against a subordinate and her employer, claiming that she was bullied on a daily basis.  She claimed that her employer failed to take sufficient steps to support her after she was the victim of an unsubstantiated bullying claim, for example through mentoring or management training.

Decision:

The Commission agreed with the employer finding that the definition of bullying in s789FD of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) was not met, noting that a safety risk must be “real and not simply conceptual”.

Although the HR department should have acted proactively following the unsubstantiated bullying complaint, this did not amount to an unreasonable action.

“Reasonable management action” should be read broadly.  The action should be considered as a whole.  It must be lawful but need not be perfect or ideal.

Reasonableness will be determined on an objective basis and the Commission will look to whether the employer’s policies and procedures were followed.