ACT News

Canberra man with apparent fear of shopping centres and lost libido takes Westpac to court

 A Canberra man who claims he developed a fear of shopping centres and suffered a loss of libido has taken Westpac Bank to court seeking compensation and damages for alleged workplace injuries.

Ian Armstrong, 56, of Scullin, has taken the bank to the ACT Magistrates Court after allegedly developing severe depression and anxiety while working in a Canberra-based branch.

But Westpac have rejected the claims, saying Mr Armstrong "did not suffer any injury arising out of or in the course of his employment". 

Documents filed by Mr Armstrong's lawyers, Slater and Gordon, said their client had worked in the banking sector for 37 years but was unable to meet a series of workplace targets during 2012 and 2013, despite apparently increasing his workload to up to 12 hours a day.

Mr Armstrong allegedly burst into tears after an informal performance review with his superiors in August 2013, which he described as "patronising".

In coming months, Mr Armstrong was placed on formal performance management and was diagnosed as "unfit to work" by his doctor on September 9 and has not returned to work since.

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Court documents reveal Mr Armstrong told a health professional he began to vomit, suffer insomnia, feel helpless and anxious, and occasionally contemplate ending his life the during this period.

According to Clinical Associate Professor Jonathan Phillips, Mr Armstrong suffered "a marked reduction in libido" and became fearful of entering shopping centres, particularly if there was a bank inside the complex.

Mr Armstrong has claimed compensation lost income from September 2013, for any permanent injuries sustained while working with Westpac, and for the cost of medical treatment and damages.  

"The depression disorder was the result of stressors which developed in the Westpac workplace during 2012 and 2013, and particularly two seemingly poorly constructed meetings," Professor Phillip's report read.

"I believe Mr Armstrong had become vulnerable to criticism, adverse and inappropriate comment directed at him in the course of his working life."

But lawyers for Westpac Banking Corporation argued that any injury sustained by Mr Armstrong did not stop him from working and that he was capable of earning equal or greater income through alternative employment.

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