'Bullied' worker sues Bechtel for $3.1m
A CENTRAL Queensland worker is suing his former employer for over $3.1 million, alleging sustained bullying and harassment at a Gladstone work site.
The man was employed as a labourer from April 2013 at Bechtel Construction's Curtis Island site when it is alleged he was subjected to harassment by several members of his work crew, including supervisors.
Documents lodged in the Supreme Court at Rockhampton state the man was bullied from November 2013, with colleagues using intimidating gestures, forcibly placing a shovel in his hand, kicking his chair and flicking saliva laced paper at his head, writing sexually explicit messages on Facebook, and calling him several names (further allegations are listed below).
In 2014, a colleague challenged the man to a physical fight, which was later carried out.
In another incident, a phrase referring to the man as "a snitch" was written in 2m square letters in wet cement in a colleague's work area.
When the man reported the bullying and harassment to his supervisor, the crew was told the name calling was to stop.
But the man later went to collect his bag and found "a penis and ball sack had been drawn on it".
In February 2014, the man told his supervisor he was struggling to work with those involved and on March 1 sent a text message saying the bullying had "messed him up", causing him to see a psychologist.
When the man returned from sick leave, he was told those who had allegedly been harassing him had told the rest of the crew not to work with him.
The man filed a letter of complaint with a fill-in supervisor, who passed it onto the employee relations representative.
The court documents allege Bechtel did not commence any investigation into the complaint.
The man was allegedly told by supervisors to ignore those involved, but was then told to work with them.
When he protested this team arrangement, he was allegedly told "you will do as you are told ****".
In April 2014, a worker allegedly overheard a threat by someone to "knife" the man.
When this was reported to management, Bechtel started an investigation into the threat and earlier complaints of bullying and harassment.
The documents allege the man, and another who reported the overheard threat, were called "dogs" and "grubs" by colleagues following the investigation.
As a result of the incidents, the man claims he sustained a psychiatric injury which required medical treatment and "intensive psychiatric treatment".
The documents state he was diagnosed with and needed treatment for a Major Depressive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
"Despite having received intensive psychiatric treatment the Plaintiff continues to suffer from significant psychiatric injury," the claim states.
The man's treatment is ongoing.
The man is suing Bechtel for damages totalling $3,163,301.30, including past economic loss totalling $354,529.98.
Included is also a sum of $2,289,783.87 for future economic loss, with the documents stating the man's injuries "will forever preclude his return to work in the construction or mining industry or in any other form of employment".
Both Bechtel and the lawyers acting on behalf of the man declined to comment further while the matter was before the courts.