‘Bullied’ library staffer settles out of court
A GOLD Coast library assistant who sued the council for nearly $700,000 alleging he had been bullied by his "autocratic" boss, has settled his claim out of court.
Matthew William Harding, 49, a former librarian at the Burleigh Heads library, settled his damages suit against Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) late on Wednesday night, after the second day of the District Court hearing before Judge Bernard Porter QC.
Details of the settlement were not revealed in court in Brisbane.
The case was due to run until today.
Mr Harding, who worked at the Burleigh Heads library since 2001, alleged the abuse by his former boss, library branch manager, Jacqueline Walch began in 2013 and destroyed his marriage, caused mental anguish and left him unable to work.
Mrs Walch "employed an autocratic style of management and enjoyed being in control rather than being willing to listen and to allow staff to contribute," it was alleged.
The council denied the claims.
The court heard how Mr Harding was called into Mrs Walch's office on July 22, 2014, and given a "second formal" verbal warning for showing aggression when he asked questions at a staff meeting days earlier on July 16.
Mr Harding told Mrs Walch that she had not given him a first warning and alleged she refused to explain why he was given the second warning.
The staff meeting discussed an incident involving an intellectually disabled library visitor and a young child at the Burleigh Heads library, where police were called, as well as the new system for packing books which were to be discarded and placed in storage.
The court heard that Mr Harding had been diagnosed with chronic adjustment disorder with depressed and anxious mood and a major depressive disorder.
Mr Harding was moved from Burleigh Heads to Robina library, closer to his home, after his run-ins with Mrs Walch, the court heard.
Former colleague Gayle Wilcox, a library assistant and witness called by Mr Harding's legal team on Wednesday, told the court via video link that before the alleged bullying, Mr Harding was "loved" by library customers and he was a "very popular storyteller" at Burleigh's popular Rhyme Time sessions for children.
Another former colleague, Sharri Reid told the court that Mrs Walch bullied staff "in a passive aggressive way".
During his cross examination of Mr Harding's former colleagues, barrister Keith Howe, for the GCCC, suggested Mrs Walch had not bullied Mr Harding.
Mr Howe suggested Mrs Walch had begun at the library in 2013 and was just "matter of fact" with staff about wanting the library to be "run in a more professional way" because "there was too much chit chat going on the corridors in front of the customers".
Mr Howe suggested staff were "resistant to" Mrs Walch's changes.
Originally published as 'Bullied' library staffer settles out of court