An appeal has been made to the Australian High Court by a worker who lost his dismissal claim last month. In his claim, the Claimant accused his former employer of negligence, citing bullying by his supervisor.
You may be wondering what is the significance of the action, but this was one of, if not the first case of bullying by the breaking of wind. Mr Hingst claimed his supervisor would harass him on a daily basis by breaking wind near, towards or on him.
In its judgment, the Victoria state Court of Appeal agreed with a previous Supreme Court finding that even if the allegations were true, flatulence in and of itself did not necessarily constitute bullying. The case was duly wafted away.
The employer's reasons for dismissing Mr Hingst, specifically because of a downturn in work, were found to trump the claims of negligence and bullying.
Employers who are faced with similar allegations should not simply turn the other cheek, but take care to investigate grievances properly and determine whether further action is required.
Hingst testified that he had moved out of a communal office space to avoid supervisor Greg Short’s flatulence. Hingst told the court that Short would then enter Hingst’s small, windowless office several times a day and break wind. Hingst “alleged that Mr. Short would regularly break wind on him or at him, Mr. Short thinking this to be funny,” the two appeal court judges wrote in their ruling. Hingst said he would spray Short with deodorant and called his supervisor “Mr. Stinky.”