Monday, February 1, 2010

So, what does happen when you take your employer, a South Australian Government Agency to Court?

In my case, it was the Equal Opportunity Tribunal in the District Court of South Australia. I was an employee within the Justice Portfolio framework. Representing the Office of the Public Trustee was the Crown Law Office, an Agency also within the Justice Portfolio.

And for those following my Posts, every other investigative body I took my complaints to also resided within the Justice Portfolio tepee.

I represented myself.

Why? Easy answer. Each Adelaide Law Firm I approached, I was told about a conflict of interest. Every firm I contacted was on a ‘Government List’ for legal services. I saw these Lists.

My conspiratorial dark side kicked in.

Now, to the big day, the first day of MY Court Case. I was nervous as hell.

Most of day 1 and a significant chunk of the next day, I was in the Witness Box. I felt like a slice of bread in a toaster. What happened left me upset, confused, and bloody angry.

I am no longer a young fella, so it cannot be said that I had no inkling as to what happens to the ‘good guys’ in any Witness Box. However...

Crown Law took it to an entirely new level.

The drama actually started the evening before when I was telephoned at home by one of my star witnesses. She was upset. I felt the crumbs falling off my Case even before I hung up.

My star witness had been called to the inner sanctum of thee Public Trustee late that afternoon.

She walked through the door to be confronted by the Public Trustee, Ms Cath O’Loughlin, by the Acting Solicitor from Crown Law, Mr Mike Ahern, and by the Manager of Corporate Services Mr Des O’Neill.

I will mention that Public Trustee Executive Management was, in part the subject of my initial complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission prior to this Court Action. This is public record.

All I need to say is that this witness, my star witness was no longer my witness!

I was not there, so I cannot comment on what happened.

Back to Court.

Right from the bell, the Crown threw up a technicality as to why my entire case should be thrown out. This was my first indicator that craziness was to ensue...the previous afternoon a courier fronted to my home with a letter from Crown Law. I was offered money to ‘drop the lot’. Logic was not ringing a very loud bell in my head.

Why try to buy me out if indeed Crown had all the legal technicalities up its long, dark sleeve.

Well, that little sophisticated effort fell by the wayside real quick. I had Googled my way across the planet, and was armed with a swag of Precedents loaded into all barrels. Particularly comforting, to me anyway, were the Precedents set over the years by the Judge in front of me. I began to get that gambling rush as your pony bolts first out of its box!

Then, my underdog world began to lose its colour. I was scruffed back into the box.

Two days later, it had become evident to me that the Crown had interviewed the subject of my complaints, and had gathered as many Christmas Party boozy anecdotes as possible. Tested or not? I doubt they cared.

Here is a selection used in an attempt to paint me as a person not to be trusted:

* I was arrested by the local constabulary and taken away for interview.

* I had a connection with a ‘Big Al’.

* I was a major distributor of pornographic materials at work.

* I supplied Horny Goat Weed to my manager. (Oh, yeah, the Manager who was the subject of my complaints)

* I had been locked in a ‘padded room’ in the bowels of the Magistrates Court during a Civil Matter.

And so on…

I quickly formed the opinion I was dealing with idiots!

What did I do? Well, when the allegation of an arrest raised its intriguing head, I suggested an adjournment whilst the Court made contact with the appropriate authority to authenticate these claims. But, you know how on the TV the Solicitor will quickly and effortlessly slide on to another topic? Bingo!

All I could do was use the NO word a zillion times. No expression. No outbursts. No emotion. I was developing a sense of Objectivity versus Subjectivity.

It is all in the transcript. It is public record.

In a subsequent letter to Crown Law, I simply said:

‘…my employer seemed hell bent on protecting itself by whatever means…every fibre of decency should have compelled my employer to desist in what is now apparent to me as a protect Public Trustee at all costs…I do feel utterly repulsed at many of the allegations…I simply record the fact that Judge Rice found in favour of my assertions of what happened…it does seem to me, based upon conflicting evidence that someone lied…one day the real issue of what is wrong within Public Trustee will be teased out…’

Well, that was mid-2004. In 2009 a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Office of the Public Trustee took place. The ‘teasing’ was here!

Year NINE of my struggle!

Hopefully, readings of both Judge Rice’s Determination of June 2004, and the Report of the 2009 Parliamentary Inquiry will give you a sense of the injustices I suffered at the hands of an employer with deep pockets and at the hands of an employer that did not give a shit about an employee where it’s Duty of Care had been tossed to the side for so many years.

The Parliamentary Inquiry report is report number 51 and can be found by clicking through the documents button, 'tabled responses and reports' at the bottom of the linked page:

Would I do it again? Hell yeah!


Pissed Off Employee said...

Robbo, senior PT staff here. We too are sick of all the twisting and turning of upper management and their friends. Nepotism is alive and well, but how do we prove it? Like you, the brick wall is well built and ALMOST impenetrable. We are not giving up though and will fight to the end. From our new (read expensive shambles) building, we can see the Treasurers office. We look forward to our meeting with him. All the best, J

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. do not believe a 'senior PT staff' posted this. Unless they think one step down from 'upper' management is 'senior' management. Is that 'senior' by age, experience,their perception of their supposed alleged very superior ablility? A 'senior' manager should know the difference between patronage and nepotism. Nepostism exists, but not as common as patronage at PT. Competent 'leadership' is foreign to PT & non evident all the time I was at PT.

Anonymous said...

further to incompetent managers and management at PT. Some managers think patronage and nepotism is the same. They think bad practice is appointing a relative. But see no issue in favoring their mates at the interview or worse pre-arranging who will get the job. Yes that has happened many times for PT job interviews. Or they prefer to back their favorites over more compentent people who have the merit and the experience to do it. Never let it be said that merit is promoted at PT. When I was there they were passing over good people to make sure that people who ingratiated themselves the most to managers and team leaders were promoted even if they were less able than another person who applied. The concept of competent leadership and real fairness do not operate at PT. It is all about who likes you and who is stuffed because management hate them. The real world does not operate by PT rules. Sorry I came to work there. So glad I left.

Anonymous said...

Remember when PT had to redo all the interviews again? When discovered that they had already picked out all the people who would get each job? Before the selection business started?
Some of the people behind all that are still there. Now managers are more cunning but it still happens. Now it is a tap on the shoulder and a whispered suggestion to someone to apply. or they get special one on one training that no one else gets before the job comes up. They are guaranteed to get the job. And the tap on the shoulder and the one on one grooming and training and special projects offerred to someone already picked out by manager for better things. It is no accident when anyone gets a job or Acting in a job. It is predictable. Transparency at PT only means those plastic sleeves.

Anonymous said...

I stayed such a short time at Public Trustee that probably no one remembers me. The guy i was working with would not talk to me. Thrown in at the deep end and the only training was some online thing. Had to ask for some things explained to me again and that seemed to irritate the man I asked. Asked another woman and she didn't know and told me to ask the man I asked before or the man who would not talk to me. After that they left to my own devices. No feedback, no support. The place had a sad tense atmosphere. Some of the staff seemed more scared of one team leader who had more clout than the guy in charge of her. Everyone had to work their butt off except the old men who would sit down in a group for ages reading the papers and talking and making coffee. Have seen reports in the newspaper on Public Trustee problems and just came across your blogspot by accident. After reading at this site I know I did the right thing by leaving Public Trustee so soon after I started there.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend, who still works in there. P.T. He used to often refer to the clients as `` MENTALS `` ... &, the way he spoke of the place, he seemed to loathe it, all.

FEAR seemed to pervade him, at all times, in there. When he was in the building he always became VERY VERY NASTY. VERY NASTY: & once he left the building, he seemed to resume a more normal personality.

It all sounded like utter CRAP; everything he ever told me about working in there. I wonder why he ever chose to work in there, in the 1st. place?

From the sound of what he has told me over the many years, the place has nearly KILLED him.