Lismore hospital ‘whistleblower’ loses legal appeal

A CLEANER sacked from Lismore Base Hospital after making a complaint against workplace bullying has lost a legal bid to have his job reinstated.

Alex Mervyn Charles made a public interest disclosure to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2011 about what he considered a workplace health and safety risk at the hospital.

He believed other staff members, unhappy about his disclosure, subjected him to a campaign of bullying and harassment that continued throughout 2012 and 2013.

He claimed to have received a psychological injury from the bullying and stopped working on July 29, 2013.

Mr Charles lodged a claim for workers compensation which was ruled in his favour in November 2014.

It was not until March 2015 that he discovered HealthShare NSW had "separated" his name from the casual workers' pool at Lismore Base Hospital.

Industrial Relations Commissioner John Murphy oversaw Mr Charles's application for unfair dismissal.

"He feels particularly aggrieved because ICAC had determined that his disclosure was covered by the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 which made it an offence to take reprisal action against him substantially in response to him having made a protected disclosure," Mr Murphy said.

The Northern NSW Local Health District denied Mr Charles was ever dismissed - he was simply "separated" from the casual pool because he had not worked a shift for more than six months.

"Further, the respondent submits that this administrative action was not taken by it but by HealthShare NSW," Mr Murphy said.

"According to the respondent, the applicant's whistleblowing activities did not have, and could not have had, any bearing on the cessation of his casual employment."

Mr Charles did not want to return to work at Lismore Base Hospital, asking to be redeployed to either Kyogle or Nimbin hospitals.

The commission found the termination of his employment was not harsh, unreasonable or unjust and dismissed his application.

"I acknowledge that the applicant feels genuinely aggrieved by the loss of his casual employment at Lismore Base Hospital, which he believes was connected to his whistleblowing activities and the campaign of bullying and harassment which, according to the applicant, followed on from that," Mr Murphy said.

"However, the evidence before the commission does not support this belief." -APN NEWSDESK

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