A Gippsland man has been jailed for six months more than what has been described as an extended and systematic campaign of workplace bullying that created his victims’ lives “a living hell”.
Sean Clare, from Moe, pleaded guilty to stalking two colleagues at the Woolworths shop in Moe amongst August 2010 and August 2013.
The 46-year-old verbally abused his then-evening shift manager Erica Jegers and one more employee, Steven Ricketts.
The Latrobe Magistrates’ Court heard Clare typically undermined Ms Jegers, refusing to execute basic tasks and spread rumours she was having an affair.
He was openly hostile and aggressive towards Ms Jegers, generating derogatory comments about her although she was in earshot.
On the night of Could 1, 2013, Clare known as Ms Jegers although she was at work, telling her “if you had been a bloke you would have had your head smashed in by now because nobody likes you”.
Ms Jegers produced a formal complaint about the incident to Woolworths management and took the subsequent week off.
The court heard the systematic and continual bullying affected Ms Jegers so much that she got pregnant two years earlier than initially planned, just to get away from Clare.
She no longer performs at the retailer.
Police prosecutors stated Ms Jegers was so fearful of Clare she could not attend court for his sentencing.
‘Serious blip’ in an otherwise quiet life
Clare’s lawyer told the court his client was nonetheless employed by Woolworths in Moe and had worked for the company for 28 years.
He said the case was a serious blip in an otherwise quiet life.
He mentioned the concerns with Ms Jegers began as a reputable workplace concern about Clare’s back difficulties and he had overreacted.
But that was disputed by police prosecutor Senior Constable Jodi Thoroughgood, who stated it was a period of extended and systematic abuse that created it a psychologically unsafe workplace.
In sentencing, Magistrate Franz Holzer told Clare he was fortunate to have such a supportive employer, following generating his victims’ lives a living hell for 3 years.
He said the firm had not provided a safe workplace and he was shocked Woolworths had not been far more proactive in resolving the predicament sooner.
Clare was sentenced to serve an instant term of six months’ imprisonment, with a minimum of two months.
Woolworths declined the ABC’s request for comment.
Subjects: courts-and-trials, prisons-and-punishment, operate, moe-3825, vic