Public servant's soy milk sojourn

A Canberra public servant told her boss she needed longer breaks than her colleagues, saying she had to find a café that served organic coffee with soy milk.

When the Australian Taxation Office bureaucrat was warned about her absences from her desk and told she had to adhere to time management requirements, she took her case to the Commonwealth government's workplace authority.

After the appeal was dismissed, the Executive Level 1 public servant went on stress leave and claimed workers compensation, arguing that her ATO supervisor's approach left her with "adjustment disorder".

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has dismissed the worker's appeal against the decision to reject the claim, finding the Taxation Office was reasonable in its dealings with the public servant.

In her appeal to the Tribunal, Pardeep Sidhu said her boss Sky May used her position to intimidate her subordinate by rejecting an application for study leave and scrutinising her attendance at work.


The AAT heard that Ms Sidhu had recovered from her adjustment disorder and was now working satisfactorily in another area of the ATO.

The tribunal's decision notes that Ms May had her doubts that Ms Sidhu had to travel to find appropriate coffee and the boss strictly adhered to her workplace guidelines in her dealing with Ms Sidhu.

"The Tribunal accepts this was a case in which there was a breakdown of the relationship between a supervisor and an employee and that this adversely affected the level of trust between the two and led to a considerable amount of hostile action by both parties," Tribunal member Robin Creyke wrote in her ruling.

"Nonetheless, the evidence does not support the multiple claims that the administrative actions, as a result of which Ms Sidhu suffered an adjustment disorder, were unreasonable or taken in a reasonable manner."


Comment are now closed