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Employment Law: Anonymity of bullying and harassment claims again rejected by Fair Work Commission.

A recent case in Fair Work Commission has again confirmed the earlier decision in Corfield of the Commission refusal to suppress the names of the employer and the particular employees involved in a workplace bullying claim.

The Commission has referred to the underlying principle in an open justice system to deny the application to suppress names.

The Company had asked Fair Work Commission to hold the hearing into the s789FC application of Fair Work Act in private in an effort to reduce “severe embarrassment and unwanted damage”

Commissioner Lewin noted that whilst he had the authority under s593 of the Fair Work Act to hear matter in private, he considered that “mere embarrassment, distress or damage” was not sufficient to displace “the presumption in favour of the open administration of justice”.

The Fair Work Commission has again demonstrated the strict approach in determining whether a matter should be heard in private due to certain circumstances.

It was shown that this decision may be changed if allegations made by the applicant in the hearing were either defamatory or the applicant was unable to substantiate the allegations.

Commissioner Lewin was unable to find any significant differentiation between this application and the other 37,000 applications that had been made. He did state that the employer and employees were able to again make an application for confidentiality once the evidence was presented.

Hankin v Plumbers Supplies Co-Operative Ltd T/A Plumbers Supplies Co-Op; Ben Ridgeway; Simon Ballingal; Chris Henry; David Power; Grant Crawford; Stephen Wells [2014] FWC 8402 (1 December 2014)

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christielawyersEmployment Law: Anonymity of bullying and harassment claims again rejected by Fair Work Commission.