Farting on colleagues is not bullying, court in Australia rules

David Hingst wanted $1.8m in damages after claiming former boss repeatedly broke wind at him

Tim Wyatt
Friday 29 March 2019 10:58
Farting on colleagues is not bullying, court in Australia rules

A man who claimed his former supervisor at work repeatedly broke wind at him has lost his multimillion dollar compensation claim for bullying.

David Hingst had demanded his former employer, Construction Engineering, pay him $1.8m (Australian dollars – about £980,000) in damages.

He accused his former supervisor Greg Short of repeatedly breaking wind inside his small, windowless office, which he said amounted to bullying.

But the Court of Appeal in the Australian state of Victoria has dismissed Mr Hingst’s case, and ruled even if his allegations of malicious flatulence were true it would not necessarily mean he had been bullied.

The 56-year-old testified he had moved out of a communal office space at the engineering firm’s building to try to escape Mr Short’s constant farting.

But Mr Short allegedly then began coming into Mr Hingst’s new private office and continued to break wind several times a day.

“He would fart behind me and walk away. He would do this five or six times a day,” Mr Hingst said outside court.

“He thrusted his bum at me while he was at work.”

In retaliation he said he would spray his supervisor with deodorant and call him “Mr Stinky”.

Mr Short told the court he did not remember ever farting inside Mr Hingst’s office, but admitted he could have done it “once or twice”.

The appeal judges found Mr Hingst “put the issue of Mr Short’s flatulence to the forefront” of his bullying case, arguing that “flatulence constituted assaults”.

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But the court found Mr Short did not bully or harass his subordinate. Neither had Construction Engineering been negligent, judges ruled.

Mr Hingst claimed his former employer had bullied him by firing him in 2009 but the firm argued his job had been ended because of a downturn in the construction industry.

The former engineer has said he will appeal the judgement in Australia’s High Court.

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