Workplace bullying: past behaviour relevant in Fair Work Commission’s new jurisdiction — update

The Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying powers came into force on 1 January 2014. In a recent decision — Application by Kathleen McInnes [2014] FWCFB 1440 — the Full Bench of the commission has found that the new laws can apply to bullying that occurred before 1 January 2014.

On 9 January 2014, Ms Kathleen McInnes applied to the commission for an order to prevent her from being bullied at work. The bullying in question occurred over a six-year period from November 2007 to May 2013. Importantly, Ms McInnes did not claim that she had been bullied after May 2013.

One of the respondents, Peninsula Support Services (PSS), objected to the application on the basis that the commission was not empowered to deal with bullying that occurred before the anti-bullying laws came into effect. Allowing the application to proceed, PSS argued, would give the new provisions retrospective operation…

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