Worker’s $500k lawsuit over call centre ‘pest’
A FORMER call centre employee is suing Brisbane City Council for more than $500,000, claiming she suffered psychiatric trauma from a serial pest caller.
The man allegedly phoned the complaints line for years, reporting rafts of bizarre maintenance issues including cobwebs on bus stops and tree branches over park lights.
Tricia Marie Griffin, 49, is taking civil action in Brisbane Supreme Court, claiming council failed to take action against a caller - known as Wes - who would allegedly ride his bike through parks with the woman on the line, naming every maintenance issue he saw before asking staff to read back his complaint and becoming difficult if they did not comply with his requests.
She is seeking $516,638.97 in damages for personal injuries and loss as a result of council's alleged negligence.
Court documents lodged in March allege council failed to provide a safe place of work, proper supervision or mitigate risks of harm to workers in their call centre from July 2008 to March 2017.
They allege council knew or should have known the nuisance caller was affecting staff but failed to provide training, risk assessments or procedures to screen or block pest calls.
Ms Griffin claims in court documents lodged this week that she and other staff complained to management about the frequency of calls and uncomfortable nature of the interactions with the caller - who she said would sometimes phone up to 30 times a day.
The woman claims the man would call at times he knew she would be present at work, up to six times a day, court documents allege.
The statement of claim alleges another call centre worker in 2015 suffered extreme anxiety as a result of the same serial caller.
Ms Griffin claims managers told her to "dig deeper into your bag of resilience" and to "deal with it" or to leave the job when she reported feeling anxious and unsupported in relation to the pest calls.
In March 2017, Ms Griffin claims, she received a call from Wes who told her he was in a female toilet block and wished to make a maintenance complaint. Court documents allege Ms Griffin had a panic attack and began to shake uncontrollably once she got off the call.
She could not return to work after the incident and resigned in May 2018.
Speaking to The Courier-Mail, Ms Griffin said she had suffered significant mental trauma since leaving council and had lost the ability to look after herself after being diagnosed with social phobia, adjustment disorder and depression.
"I didn't think I'd love anything again. I didn't see the light in the future, of myself being me again," she said, adding she had recently got a new part-time job and was slowly getting back on track.
After Ms Griffin left the job, the caller was given a total ban by council from making contact, according to the documents.
A council spokeswoman said it was "not appropriate" for council to comment as the matter was before the court.
Originally published as Worker's $500 lawsuit over call centre 'pest'