Implied contractual terms basis for $2m  discrimination award

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Implied contractual terms basis for $2m discrimination award

Psychiatric illness caused by the intentional intimidation and humiliation of a security guard by an employee of the defendant contractor resulted in an award of almost $2m in damages.

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Psychiatric illness caused by the intentional intimidation and humiliation of a security guard by an employee of the defendant contractor resulted in an award of almost $2m in damages. The NSW Supreme Court found that there were implied terms in the contract of employment of the security guard against the infliction of distress and humiliation in the course of his employment.

Background

The plaintiff was employed by a security firm stationed at the contractor's premises.

Justice Adams handed down his award of damages in a case involving a sickening litany of workplace abuse over more than four years. His Honour found News Limited and a security company, Group 4 Securitas, vicariously liable for a security manager's behaviour. The initial finding was reported in a previous article.

Breach of implied terms of contract

Justice Adams found that the security guard's employment contract formed the basis for award of damages:

'The wrongful conduct of Mr Chaloner constituted, as I noted, a breach of Group 4’s contractual obligation to provide a safe place of work. The discrimination and harassment policy published by the company also constituted, in my view, a condition of the employment contract with the plaintiff, in effect, that it would ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that he would not be subjected to conduct of the kind contemplated by the policy. ...

I considered that permitting intimidatory conduct to be inflicted on employees is a breach of an implicit term that employees are not to be placed in fear of insult or physical harm and that a course of intimidation in the workplace is a substantial breach sounding in damages. ...

Bringing these various descriptions of Group 4’s employment obligations together, it seems to me that it was an implied term of its contract with the plaintiff that it would not, by its servants or agents, intimidate, racially or personally vilify him, subject him to demeaning, harassing or abusive conduct or threats of such conduct or threats of violence and that it would, so far as is reasonably practicable, protect him from any such conduct occurring in the course of his employment. …'

Damages

The verdict against Group 4 was $1,608,529 plus damages for breach of contract of $100,000, plus interest on $100,000 calculated from 1992 to December 1996. Indemnity costs were awarded for the period from 26 March 2004. The result was an award against News Ltd in the sum of $1,946,189 plus costs.

Naidu v Group 4 Securitas Pty Ltd & Anor [2006] NSWSC 144 - 15/
 
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