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in brief: woman wins compensation for being fired after reporting bullying

Bullying victim, Abby Holt (Image via 9 News)

Bullying victim, Abby Holt (Image via 9 News)


In September 2010, Abby Holt began working for Westpac as implementation manager.  Within weeks, she was being subjected to bullying by team leader Emily Lowson.  Holt, who weighed about 53 kilograms at the time of her employment, claims that Lowson referred to her as a ‘Breatharian,’ because she rarely ate at work.  Lowson also called Holt ‘Scabby Abby,’ and ‘Scabs,’ while another employee called her a ‘Coke puppet… because her head was too big for her body.’

Holt complained to Lowson’s superior, Damian Cramer, but instead of reprimanding Lowson, Holt found herself being told that her name had been ‘tarnished,’ and that there was no room left in the business for her.  Cramer then asked her to leave the building, and had her escorted from the premises.

Holt has now won an appeal allowing her to receive worker’s compensation.  Furthermore, Shine Lawyers is considering a claim against Westpac, on the grounds that Abby Holt has suffered from anxiety and has been unable to find work since leaving the bank in 2011.

‘I went from a happy confident person to a girl who was insecure and always upset,’ said Holt.  However, she remains hopeful of finding a new job, and hopes that ‘other people won’t let this sort of bullying happen to them.’

Holt’s lawyer, Martha King, has stated that ‘The case is particularly disappointing, given the behaviour came from within such a renowned company,’ however, comments on the 9 News Facebook page may shed a light on a pervasive ‘man up’ attitude within Australian society.  Comments have argued that Holt ‘is just an attention seeking female… come on lets (sic) be serious here she is an adult if people said she was too thin why the hell did she not tell them to shut their mouths and f*** off i (sic) would have,’ and that ‘(s)he should eat a sandwich.’  ‘We are so becoming a little America,’ one commenter added, adding to previous criticism over Holt taking legal action.  While Holt has won her case, it is not difficult to see how bullying can flourish even in a supposedly professional workplace.

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3 thoughts on “in brief: woman wins compensation for being fired after reporting bullying

  1. How utterly appalling that this happened to this woman and what makes it more appalling is the reaction of idiots who have obviously never been bullied! Here in Canberra 57 staff including me are fighting bullying by their employer Canberra Institute of Education.

    While it might be true that people should begin to stand up for themselves in the workplace, (I have discussed this on my blog too on the post Who Manages the Mangers), the workplace must have policies in place that allow this. The idiot who posted on the channel 9 site telling her to tell others to f–k off is a fool. Anyone who spoke like this in the workplace would be immediately sacked (esp in the environment she worked in, maybe it’s acceptable on a building site or wherever Mr big tough guy works).

    The workplace needs a simple solution to this where staff are expected to fill out a 6 monthly report on how they think they have conducted themselves at work and more importantly how they feel others have conducted themselves in regard to them … especially their managers. Bullying has flourished in my work place exactly under the circumstances this woman describes – and I am a strong woman who DID stand up for herself and then the bully worked behind the scenes to get rid of me – and was successful.
    But, I am glad and proud that I called the bully out. This however is not a step that is easy for people to take. I requested mediation and that did not work. The workplace itself sided with the bully (a manager) and has done so for years … though once the investigation by the ACT’s Commissioner for Public Administration Andrew Kefford’s team of investigators has finished heads may yet roll.
    If my workplace had had a process such as I suggest above – then this person would have been made accountable by higher management for how I was feeling about the bullying and could have been made to pull his head it, and it should have gone on his record. On the other hand, if my accusation was unfounded, I too would be made responsible for how I conducted myself.

  2. Pingback: feminist news round-up 15.06.13 | lip magazine

  3. Read the QIR transcript and get the full story only part of what occured you published. 10 witnesses were called and not all share your view.

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