Dispute resolution specialist unleashes on colleague

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Dispute resolution specialist unleashes on colleague

A family dispute resolution practitioner who behaved aggressively and unprofessionally towards a female colleague was not unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.

A family dispute resolution practitioner who behaved aggressively and unprofessionally towards a female colleague has lost his bid for unfair dismissal.

The Fair Work Commission found Peter Hanson's conduct was 'highly inappropriate' in a workplace setting and he had shown a total lack of remorse for his behaviour.

Background


In September 2018 Mr Hanson was involved in an incident with his colleague Catherine Johnson.

Ms Johnson had attended to a client of Mr Hanson's while he was temporarily out of the office; on his return the pair had disagreed about whether the appointment had been necessary. 

Not long after, Mr Hanson allegedly entered Ms Johnson's office, threw the client's file down on her desk, and yelled at her to complete some paperwork. 

Ms Johnson said he made aggressive hand motions, was red in the face and became progressively angrier when she refused his request to complete a report, which she deemed to be unnecessary.

She said that she felt threatened, scared and was unable to leave her office as Mr Hanson was standing in the doorway.

Two other colleagues heard the altercation, with one saying Ms Johnson was visibly shaken and upset after the incident.

Mr Hanson denied he had raised his voice, or that he was angry, annoyed or frustrated. When pressed, he accepted things may have been 'a bit testy' but not 'tense'.

He submitted his dismissal was unfair because his conduct was not as alleged and he was the victim of 'bullying and mobbing'.

Evidence lacked credibility


Commissioner Sarah McKinnon found Mr Hanson was not a persuasive witness.

She said he "downplayed the incident to such a degree... that his version of events on that day lacks credibility".

The commissioner was satisfied Mr Hanson had raised his voice at Ms Johnson in a tone that was loud enough to be heard from 10 metres away.

She also found he had stood over Ms Johnson, thrown a client file on her desk and had acted aggressively.

"His conduct, combined with his total lack of remorse or insights into his behaviour, persuades me that there was a valid reason for dismissal", commissioner McKinnon said.

She also found the dismissal had not been harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Read the judgment


Peter Hanson v FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria T/A Better Place Australia [2019] FWC 2903
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