When workplace disputes snowball: How to manage mediation and avoid costly court proceedings
A multi-million dollar workplace dispute case has recently emerged in Queensland, demonstrating the important role professional workplace mediators can play in resolving conflicts before they end in litigation. A former senior health professional is suing a government department for almost $1.4 million, for psychological injuries that she claims have prevented her from returning to work.
The plaintiff claims that while employed by the state between January 2008 and January 2011, she found herself the unwilling mediator of an intense dispute between two colleagues working under her. Unable to cope with the conflict, she sought the assistance and advice of her supervisor. She alleges that her requests for support were met with bullying and humiliation. The plaintiff is seeking compensation for a range of debilitating psychological effects she developed as a consequence of the episode, which have kept her from returning to work for the past five-and-a-half years. The workplace’s organisational culture, described by the woman’s barrister as “heavily dysfunctional”, has already been the subject of a 2009 psychological health review and audit.
This particular case demonstrates how vital it can be for organisations to access trained and professional mediators to address workplace disputes before they spiral out of control. Professional workplace mediation may have been able to resolve the dispute well before it became a prolonged, million-dollar court case. With the guidance of an impartial workplace mediator, involved parties can explore their conflict in depth, think about options, consider alternatives and decide on the best way to move forward in a controlled and safe environment.
iHR Australia’s Workplace Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services, delivered by trained mediators who have extensive experience conducting mediations within a range of industries, can assist you in recovering a workable relationship or reach an agreeable outcome, without expensive court intervention.
Our experienced professionals work to provide a safe environment in which one or both parties can clarify for the other the impact of certain behaviours or incidents.
To protect all parties involved, iHR’s Australia’s workplace mediation is a confidential and structured process that follows a proven negotiation model. Sessions can be conducted on-site at your workplace, or at a neutral location away from the workplace if more suitable.
Workplace Mediation is an appropriate measure in situations where:
• Parties to a grievance prefer that a matter be dealt with through an informal mediation process, rather than going through a formal investigation.
• The matters do not involve serious misconduct or a serious breach of company policy, but rather are a result of misunderstanding, personality clashes or a difference of opinion.
• The matter can be resolved realistically through mediation.
Successful mediation can enhance and assist your organisation in stabilising ongoing internal and external working relationships, and achieve better outcomes for all involved.