'Sick with stress': Bechtel worker claims bullying, assault
WORKPLACE Health and Safety Queensland is investigating claims by a former Bechtel worker that she was bullied, harassed, intimidated, and assaulted.
Gladstone woman Robyn Forse, a cleaner employed by Bechtel from July 2013 to January 2016, claims Bechtel targeted her for a redundancy after she complained about the alleged treatment on its APLNG construction site.
Mrs Forse filed for unfair dismissal with the Fair Work Commission in November but her case wasn't given consideration as she missed the 21-day deadline for unfair dismissal.
Her claims against Bechtel follows another high-profile case against Bechtel, first reported in The Observer in December, where a South African-born labourer is suing the construction giant for $3.1 million.
Michael Deacon claims he was bullied by several co-workers over five months in 2013-14 while working at the company's Curtis Island project. He claims he was called a "princess", "cry-baby" and "sook'', and threatened with violence.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) spokesman revealed to The Observer that they had "people working closely with the company" to resolve the complaint.
"We've taken action with the company on a number of fronts," the spokesman said.
"We've reviewed her complaint, we've taken action, and part of that action includes dealing with the company itself, and now we are reviewing further information she's provided."
The spokesman said WHSQ had elevated Mrs Forse's complaint.
"It's moved higher up the chain," he said. "Because of the delicate nature of the complaint, we are going to take it higher."
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It comes after Mrs Forse claims more than 10 letters she sent to various Bechtel departments (of which The Observer has obtained copies) in January and February of last year were unanswered.
One of the letters sent to Bechtel reads: "This letter is my final call for help," the letter reads. "I have been so sick with stress and worry."
"(I have had) no sleep, asking myself why?"
When she didn't receive a response, Mrs Forse sent letters to high-profile Australian politicians, such as Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, and the Labor Party, asking for help.
Shine Lawyers, who is representing Michael Deacon, has also taken on Mrs Forse's case.
Rebecca Ballantyne, a Shine Lawyers solicitor, said they are currently reviewing all of the documents Mrs Forse has handed over.
Ms Ballantyne said Mrs Forse has instructed them to "act for her in relation to a workplace injury from the incidents that she's suffered at work".
"In any case that an individual has been bullied or harassed at work, they may be entitled to see compensation," Ms Ballantyne said.
Mrs Ballatyne said she would likely look at the possibility of seeking workers' compensation from Bechtel's insurer.
The Observer has contacted Bechtel for comment but a spokeswoman couldn't confirm when they would respond.