Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 3682 17
27/12/2017
J. Dimovski - D. Thomson - M. Ferrari
  • In the course of employment (reasonably incidental activity test)
  • Stress, mental

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for traumatic mental stress.

The worker was a caseworker. She was at an intersection, walking to work. A taxi stopped, and a man in the taxi yelled at her. The man was the worker's client. The worker's employer had taken out a no-trespass order against the man, preventing him from personally attending the worker's workplace. The man had previously been abusive with the worker's supervisor.
The incident occurred off the employer's premises and outside the worker's working hours. However, the man's conduct was inextricably linked to the worker's carriage of the man's file and the employer's decision to issue a no-trespass order against him. The Panel found that the incident was reasonably incidental to employment. Accordingly, the incident arose out of and in the course of employment.
The Panel found that the incident involved a sudden and unexpected traumatic event. The worker was shocked by the man's vitriol toward her, which likely included a threat of violence, as up to that point she had a good relationship with him and was of the view that his anger was focused on the employer and the supervisor. At the time of the incident, she was outside and not protected by any of the security measures in the employer's premises. The man had recognized her from a moving taxi. This situation was different from a situation in which a similar threat might be made while on the employer's premises in the course of normal duties.
The worker had entitlement for traumatic mental stress. The appeal was allowed.