Economic pressure and a ‘hyper competitive’ work environment has intensified working hours and work stress across Australian business and industry – and perhaps no more acutely than in the professions. Lawyers – particularly those in private practice – know well that the stress induced by the tyranny of billable hours and client demands can induce or exacerbate mental ill-health. In this paper I would like to consider Dawson’s proposition that a “growing awareness of occupational stress… foreshadows an accelerating spiral of claims by workers for related injuries and diseases” in the light of some very recent Australian case law dealing with common law claims for psychiatric harm suffered as a result of employment conditions. The two cases I propose to examine – Koehler v Cerebos (Australia) Ltd, (Koehler) and Nikolich v Goldman Sachs J B Were Services Pty Ltd (Nikolich) – tell a somewhat unsatisfying story about the potential for the common law to adequately address the very real problems that Dawson identified so long ago.
Health Law | Legal Profession
Date of this Version
Joellen Riley, "Mental Health and Employment: Issues for Lawyers" (June 2007). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series. Working Paper 38.