ACT News

Man with apparent fear of shopping centres and lost libido loses compensation claim

A Canberra court has thrown out a lawsuit by a man who claims Westpac Bank caused him to develop a fear of shopping centres and a loss of libido.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker dismissed Ian Armstrong's claim for compensation in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Ms Walker found he had developed severe depression and anxiety while working in a Canberra-based branch. But the magistrate dismissed the case as she found Westpac had breached no laws in managing Mr Armstrong's performance.

Armstrong, 56, of Scullin, 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 allegedly 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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Documents filed by Mr Armstrong's lawyers, Slater and Gordon, revealed he told a health professional he began to vomit, suffer insomnia, feel helpless and anxious.

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.

"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.