• Alison Phillis

Workplace mental injury claims

For 20 years, readers of the Centralian Advocate looked forward to the Friday edition. Therein Povey Stirk Lawyers published a 300 word tale of fiction based on legally newsworthy events.

The following is a sample of these blogs


15th April 2019

Michaela was employed in a non-government organisation. Following a re-structure in the organisation, she was offered a position outside her area of skill.


Michaela started to find that her workload was becoming unmanageable. A colleague frequently sent her emails complaining about her work, and when she tried to defend herself the exchanges became heated. Eventually she found it difficult to go to work, as she couldn’t face further humiliation.


Due to the extra demands, Michaela missed some deadlines and as a consequence the organisation missed out on a grant, and some of its programmes had to be cancelled. Michaela was called to a formal meeting with the organisation’s Human Resources Department for performance management. She started to have a lot of time off work and applied for Workers Compensation benefits for mental injury caused by her work situation.


Michaela’s workers compensation application was rejected on the basis that her depression was caused by reasonable management action. Injury is defined in the Return to Work Act to include mental injury but does not include an injury or disease which was caused by reasonable management action.


Michaela consulted a solicitor. Michaela’s solicitor obtained copies of Michaela’s medical records, which showed she had been prescribed antidepressants and had been attending counselling for workplace stress 6 months prior to the performance management meeting. Her solicitor recommended that she appeal the decision to reject her application.


Michaela’s solicitor was able to negotiate a resolution where the Employer paid an amount equal to her lost income and medical expenses, on the basis that she resign from her position. Michaela has now obtained an alternative position which is a better fit for her skills, and with the help of her counsellor her condition is gradually improving.


If you believe that you may have a claim for Workers Compensation benefits, for a mental or other injury, you should obtain legal advice.

Disclaimer: This document provides general information and is not legal advice. While we endeavour to ensure the information is correct at the date of publication, laws frequently change. If anything in this post is relevant to you, please contact us for advice on your specific situation