A correctional officer who sought workers compensation due to suffering anxiety, stress and nightmares has effectively had his claim quashed by the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal.
An employee of the Tasmania Prison Service, the worker made a claim on or about November 10 last year, with the initial workers compensation medical certificate stating that the worker had presented with symptoms of "anxiety/stress/poor sleep/nightmares/panic attacks" and that these were releated to "workplace issues and treatment by management".
The worker told his doctor that his symptoms became evident on August 5, 2019 and that he felt like he was "being subjected to unfair and unjust treatment" by a senior manager.
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The doctor certified the employee as incapacitated for work from September 8, 2020.
But the Justice Department disputed liability for the claim, and argued that the worker's symptoms had only manifested once he learned that he was the subject of an investigation for alleged inappropriate workplace behaviour and subsequently suspended on full pay, pending the completion of the investigation.
A meeting was held between the worker, his support person, the chief superintendent and the TPS assistant director of human resources John Withers on August 27, 2020.
It was at this meeting that the worker was notified of the investigation and the suspension of his employment.
The Justice Department contended it wasn't liable to pay compensation because the worker's disease arose "substantially" from the investigation process, which it argued was a reasonable action to have taken to discipline or counsel an employee. The department believed it was similarly reasonable to have suspended the worker.
Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal chief commissioner Alison Clues said there was a "temporal connection" between the meeting on August 27 and the worker's certification of total incapacity for work from September 8.
"I accept the employer's submission that this is evidence of a plausible, potential cause of the worker's disease that is inconsistent with liability," she said.
"I am satisfied that it is reasonably arguable on the material available in relation to the claim ... that following a contested hearing, the worker's claim may be rejected."
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