Have you heard of employee harassment cases, where they charge their bosses for inappropriate behaviour like touching (groping), working extra hours and getting underpaid? Well, in all likelihood, you won’t have heard of this one. An Australian man has just lost a whopping $2 million negligence case against an engineering company. But his reason was as shocking as his loss – he had accused his supervisor of bullying, by farting constantly at him and his staff members! Yes, a $2 million loss against just some passing wind!
David Hingst, a contract administrator from Melbourne, had his claim for $1,805,138 in damages because of this ‘farting‘ issue, but justice Rita Zammit ruled out that ‘farting on an employee‘ did not constitute a form of harassment after analysing his concerns. David had accused his supervisor, Greg Short, of bullying through this indecent act.
In his case, Hingst had alleged that Short, from Construction Engineering Australia, would regularly ‘lift his bum and fart‘ on or at him, which he found ‘humiliating and disgusting‘. The contractor claimed his boss frequently did this and bullied him purposely.
However, the ‘farter’ in this case, Short, denied purposely passing wind towards his colleague, admitting he felt ’embarrassed’ he may have accidentally done it ‘once or twice‘.
Former colleague, Philip Hamilton, recalled that Short or ‘Mr Stinky‘ did have a frequent flatulence in the presence of Hingst, but he blamed cultural differences for the unintentional offence taken by Hingst, who was of German descent.
The court heard Hingst became so increasingly unhappy about this that he once purchased a can of deodorant and sprayed it at Mr Short, an incident which prompted laughter from other colleagues.
On several occasions, Hingst refused to share a lift with Short, calling him ‘Mr Stinky‘ when questioned over his reasoning. For this, he was labelled as ‘an idiot‘ by others.
After the 18-day trial, Justice Zammit ruled that Short’s flatulence was ‘an offence that has its origins in cultural difference‘. The trial included a dozen witnesses, but the evidences surely didn’t prove anything dangerous for ‘Mr Stinky’.
The judge said, “Being the recipient of unsolicited farting was unlikely to have intimidated or caused distress to the amount Mr Hingst had claimed”. She also ruled that:
“Indeed, on (his) own evidence, had he not lost his job and been abused over the telephone, the flatulence would ‘never have been a big issue.”
In a major blow to Hingst’s expensive trial, she concluded that perhaps it was his domestic stress and untimely dismissal, which caused psychiatric injuries to him, and not the bullying he accused Short of.
Despite the ruling, Mr Hingst still believed he was entitled to receive $1,805,138 for damages he incurred as a result!
This trail is definitely one-of-a-kind and some people just don’t like to give up! Just like everyone has different ways to pass wind, Hingst will have to learn different ways to deal with his issues.
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