Brisbane-based software vendor TechnologyOne has been ordered to pay one of its former state managers $5.2 million in damages.
The Federal Court of Australia ruled in favour of former TechOne Victoria state manager Behnam Roohizadegan, determining the compensation based on the Fair Work Act of 2009.
In a statement sent out to media members via Harmers Workplace Lawyers, Roohizadegan said, " I am so relieved that the court has heard my story and found me a witness of truth. This has taken an enormous strain on me and my family."
"I took on TechnologyOne because what they did was simply not right. There have been many dark nights over the past 4 years as my case has dragged on through the courts. While I took them on for myself and my family, I also had in mind other bullying victims who may not have a voice."
"It is very disappointing that TechnologyOne, in spite of this damning court judgement, are going to appeal and continue their deep pocket ‘war of attrition’ against me. I was hoping to attempt to start the rebuilding of my life with my family.”
Roohizadegan sued TechOne in 2018, claiming he was bullied by two senior executives in 2016, including one instance where he was allegedly verbally dressed down by sales and marketing executive Stuart MacDonald when he asked about negotiating on a discount for TechOne's customer La Trobe University. He sought a payout of $14.82 million at the time.
In an ASX announcement released today, TechOne said the company was “extremely disappointed” with the decision as it pertains to Roohizadegan’s firing.
“The TechnologyOne senior executive team no longer had confidence in [Roohizadegan], which was an untenable situation; for which TechnologyOne took appropriate action, and terminated his employment,” the announcement read. “We were not aware at that time that [Roohizadegan] had mental health issues.”
The company also maintained that it “always believed” it has acted lawfully.
Speaking on the decision, TechOne chairman Adrian Di Marco said, “There is a salient lesson here for all businesses, which is to not terminate an employee, if there is any hint of a complaint from that employee.”
“There is a reverse onus of proof for a company to prove that a complaint was not a factor in the decision to terminate”.
TechnologyOne said the company was “extremely surprised with the decision and now intends to pursue the matter on appeal in the Full Federal Court as soon as practicable.