Editorial: The two WorkSafe prosecutions detailed below provide a stark contrast to how the law punishes workers and employers who do the wrong thing. While it is unacceptable that workers defraud the workers compensation scheme, it is outrageous that a worker can be jailed for nine months for doing so, while an employer who is found guilty of lengthy and systemic bullying of his employees is fined under $20,000.
Director, company fined $116k for abusing staff
A Melbourne director and his security company have been convicted and fined a total of $116,250 for repeatedly bullying employees in the workplace. John Bernard Moncrieff and Monjon (Australia) Pty Ltd were sentenced in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on Friday August 30 after pleading guilty to one charge each of failing to provide a working environment that was, as far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. Moncrieff was fined $19,250 and Monjon a further $97,000.
The court heard that WorkSafe was called to the company’s Cheltenham office following an incident on October 23, 2015, in which Moncrieff pushed an employee along a corridor in front of other workers. In a second incident Moncrieff refused to allow an employee to leave the office until she assured him she would not resign following the first incident. Moncrieff, a former police officer and head of invite-only men’s club The Brotherhood, told the court he regretted his actions.
WorkSafe’s investigation found that between April 2015 and August 2016, Moncrieff led a culture of entrenched bullying at the company. The behaviour included speaking to workers in an aggressive and intimidating manner by raising his voice, swearing, and using sexist and racist language. He also made sexually suggestive comments towards workers, threatened to withhold pay and take away their security licenses, made inappropriate contact with them. He also encouraged aggressive behaviour from managers.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for inappropriate sexist, racist or demeaning behaviour in any workplace. "Under no circumstances is it acceptable for managers or directors to abuse their position of power by acting aggressively or inappropriately towards employees," Ms Nielsen said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release; The Age.
Nine months jail for compensation fraud
A man has been jailed for nine months for defrauding Victoria’s compensation scheme for injured workers of more than $112,000. The 36-year-old pleaded guilty in the Sunshine Magistrates Court to three counts of fraudulently obtaining compensation payments after injuring his eye while working as a carpenter in May 2015. The court also ordered him to pay back the $112,975 in compensation payments he received between 15 May 2015 and 11 August 2017 and $1000 costs.
The man secretly began working as a painter just 10 days after claiming he was unable to work and later used three fake medical certificates to continue to receive benefits after his GP banned him when he became aggressive and kicked in the doctor’s front gate.
WorkSafe's Enforcement Group Director Paul Fowler said the compensation scheme was set up to support and treat injured workers to help them get better and return to work when it was safe to do so. "Compensation is there to assist, and the vast majority of injured workers do the right thing," he said.
Read more: WorkSafe media release.
To check for updates go to the WorkSafe Victoria Prosecutions Result Summaries page.