Workload & belittling conduct: Psychiatric illness

A nursing home setting was the background to the Queensland Court of Appeal’s considerations in Eaton v Tricare (Country) Pty Limited [2016] QCA 139.

The claimant, a former employee, succeeded in a claim in which she alleged that she developed a psychiatric illness as a result of excessive workload and the aggressive and belittling conduct of her manager.

The appellate decision included comments as to:

  • The non-delegable duty of care owed by an employer to employees: [27]
  • Long working hours were not in isolation a breach of duty: [59]
  • It was not the legal responsibility of the employer to provide a happy workplace or one in which productivity was enhanced by polite managerial behaviour: [60]
  • However, the harassing and belittling behaviour of the manager was a breach of duty by the employer: [61]

Causation of the psychiatric illness by the harassing and belittling behaviour of the manager coupled with the excessive working hours was proven.


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