A Canberra public servant who claims she suffered mental health issues after she was asked to move offices and was given a temporary promotion has had her bid for compensation denied.
The Department of Health and Ageing worker, Erika Magro, said a series of upheavals at work in early 2011 led to the development of an ''adjustment disorder'' in late July, at which point she stopped coming in to work.
The public service insurer Comcare twice rejected her claim for workers' compensation before the case was brought to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which handed down a ruling on Monday.
Ms Magro was employed as a health programs officer in April 2011 when she was informed the ACT office that she was working in was too small and would be closed within weeks.
The agency moved Ms Magro to its central office, where she accepted a temporary promotion to an acting position on an EL1 grade.
Key to the case was a meeting with Ms Magro's new director on July 28, 2011, about six weeks after Ms Magro started in the new office. The director, who was due to go on leave that day, announced at a staff gathering that the other EL1-grade employee in the section would act as director in her absence.
Ms Magro spoke out against the announcement and was later reprimanded in a private meeting with the director.
''The director said she was disappointed in Ms Magro's behaviour at the previous meeting and, according to Ms Magro, had said that on her return they would need to have discussions about how they could better work together,'' the tribunal said.
''The director also said in evidence that she had been increasingly concerned that Ms Magro was not supporting her and her performance was bordering on the underperformance level. These were concerns she had not previously shared with Ms Magro.''
Ms Magro said the meeting came as a shock and the director accused her of wanting her job, a claim the director refutes.
''Ms Magro said she felt aggrieved by the reprimand about her behaviour at the preceding meeting,'' the tribunal said. ''She said she had tried hard to support her director and had willingly taken on the considerable familiarisation work involved in the new position as well as the operational functions.''
Ms Magro did not come into work the following day and, on the Monday, visited her doctor, who diagnosed her with an adjustment disorder as a result of the ''loss of [her] job due to closing of the ACT office'' and said she had suffered a panic attack.
However, statements by a psychologist and psychiatrist provided to the tribunal said although the meeting with her director was a significant factor in Ms Magro's ailment, domestic issues and excessive alcohol consumption also contributed to the development of the condition.
While the tribunal agreed that events at work contributed to Ms Magro's adjustment disorder, it found that her employer and director had acted reasonably and could not be held liable.
''The tribunal accepts that the director did not raise her voice and, as this was an informal process, there was no obligation for advance warning, nor to offer that a support person for Ms Magro be present,'' the ruling said. ''The director had simply taken the step to counsel Ms Magro about her behaviour and to suggest that further discussion would take place on her return from leave.''