License article

CSIRO's lollygate litigant is denied the sweet taste of success

In deep space no one can hear you scream, even if you break your tooth on an office-supplied lolly.

But it is a different matter at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

Former worker Jack Hoffman lodged a compensation claim last March after he allegedly broke a tooth on a CSIRO-supplied sweet a week earlier. It led to a ban on lollies at meetings and training sessions and, Mr Hoffman says, generated a fierce backlash from CSIRO colleagues.

In his claim to Comcare for psychological injuries arising from his workplace, Mr Hoffman said co-workers blamed him for the lollies being deemed unsafe. "You f---ed it up for everyone at CDSCC," one co-worker is alleged to have told him.

Mr Hoffman resigned from the CSIRO in July after facing disciplinary action for unauthorised use of an official vehicle to buy burgers. The 50-year-old had received two written warnings about inappropriate behaviour and was told to stop using a work car to go to McDonald's.

His unfair dismissal case failed last month, but Mr Hoffman is pursuing his Comcare claim, producing medical evidence of "adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features".

Mr Hoffman said "bullying and harassment", mostly since the tooth incident, known internally as lollygate, caused his illness.

Comcare has rejected his claim, ruling that his experience at the communications complex did not contribute sufficiently to his psychological condition to justify a workers' compensation payout.

Mr Hoffman said he would seek a reconsideration of the decision.