$22,000 to compensate for 'indignity' of workplace arrest

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$22,000 to compensate for 'indignity' of workplace arrest

A man escorted from his workplace on the assumption his visa had expired has won $22,000 in damages for false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

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A man escorted from his workplace on the assumption his visa had expired has won $22,000 in damages for false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

The Federal Court heard that officers of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs mistakenly believed that the man did not hold a valid visa and was therefore an unlawful non-citizen. In fact he held a valid bridging visa at the time of his detention, but the visa did not appear on departmental computer records.

The man was escorted from the foyer of his office with an officer holding his belt from behind. Once in detention he was pat searched, medically examined and held for three days.

The Federal Court said that arrest and imprisonment involve a grave interference with the rights of the individual 'coupled with humiliation which is both private and public'.

It said the arrest in this case occurred in a public setting which added to the indignity suffered by the man. 'The physical constraint applied to him was undignified, albeit not unreasonable.'

However, the court also noted there was nothing in the way his detention was effected that could justify an award of aggravated damages.

See: Goldie v Commonwealth of Australia (No 2) [2004] FCA 156 (27 February 2004).

Related

Two cases illustrating similar issues in relation to employers' actions:

Compensation for shock and humiliation only awarded in exacerbating circumstances

Harassment led to mental distress damages

 

 

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