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Harassment in the workplace results in TPD payout

Case Overview

Our client, a former Registrations Clerk, was subjected to a protracted period of sexual and non-sexual harassment at her workplace.

Sexualised swearing and innuendo were common in her workplace which led to our client developing symptoms of severe distress. She was initially unaware that her physical symptoms were indeed an emotional reaction which resulted in several visits to the hospital.

At the time of seeing her GP, she was experiencing multiple somatic symptoms with lightheadedness, tremulousness, increased perspiration, frequent micturition, tingling in the facial area, painful limbs, shortness of breath, chest pain and severe insomnia. Hyperventilation had been a constant problem and indeed linked to many of her somatic anxiety symptoms. In diagnostic terms, she was suffering from severe work-related adjustment disorder and anxious mood.

She attempted to resolve the issues with her colleagues and management, advising them of the extent of her harassment, however, this subjected her to a confrontation which heightened her symptomatology. She was rendered psychologically incapable of returning back to work and has been unable to return to work since.

Our Approach

While initially engaging the professional services of Gerard Malouf and Partners in respect of a Workers Compensation claim, our expert Solicitors quickly identified a potential further claim to be explored on her behalf.

The TPD definition in the insurance policy relevant to this claim was divided into two parts, A and B.

To satisfy Part A we were required to demonstrate that our client had ceased work as a result of injury or illness and that it was unlikely ever that she would work in a role that she was reasonably suited for by way of her education, training or experience. Our Solicitors were able to collate and submit extensive evidence to support this part of the definition which entitled her to receive 80% of the insured TPD benefit amount.

To satisfy Part B we were required to establish that the entrenched nature of our client’s condition resulted in a need for assistance in completing Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), ie: bathing and toileting. As it is sometimes the case, the medical evidence did not support that our client would satisfy this threshold as she was independent with her personal care and hygiene. She, therefore, was not entitled to receive the balance of the 20% of her insured TPD benefit amount.

While a TPD claim may appear to be a straightforward process, often there are complicating factors that can arise, especially within lengthy detailed policy documents.

The Result

Our Solicitors were able to collate and submit extensive evidence to support the main part of the definition of a TPD which entitled her to receive 80% of the insured TPD benefit amount.

Aadil Ahmed Lawyer Photo

Aadil Ahmed

Senior Associate
Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals” – Martin Luther King
Frequently Asked Questions

More Information

In Australia, there are protections in place for people who suffer injuries or illnesses that render them permanently unable to work in their previous career. This is called total and permanent disability insurance (or TPD insurance) and it will provide a lump-sum payment that will help you maintain your finances to a certain extent, even as you can no longer earn an income in the traditional way.

It is important to note that you do not have to have suffered this injury or illness as a result of your job to make a TPD claim.

Sexual harassment claims can be brought against employers if someone has experienced sexual harrasment at work. You are entitled to a safe workplace, and this includes freedom from unwanted touching, suggestive comments, or propositions, especially if tied to your continued employment. You can take your claim to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

TPD claims, which are payouts from a type of disability insurance purchased either privately or through your super, have the lowest rejection rate of insurance cover and an approval rate of more than 80%.

Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance is designed to provide financial support to people who have suffered life-changing injuries or illnesses and are unable to return to work.

But there are many examples of where someone may be deemed totally and permanently disabled, yet they later rejoin the workforce.


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