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A rail union delegate fired after allegedly bullying her co-workers by revving up her motorbike outside their house and posting Facebook posts belittling one as a "wanker" has lost her unfair dismissal case.
Passenger service assistant and Rail Tram and Bus Union representative, Samantha Rombola, was fired without notice after the South Australian Rail Commissioner found she had engaged in bullying and harassing her colleagues over two years.
One colleague alleged Ms Rombola had become angry when the colleague was promoted over her and had belittled her in front of staff from 2013 to 2015.
Ms Rombola allegedly called the colleague a "f---ing bitch" and a "c--t" and asked "who was she rooting to get that job".
Under the Facebook name "Sammy Fonzarelli", she allegedly posted a status update calling the colleague a "wanker" and accusing her of committing illegal acts.
A fellow ticket collector alleged the union delegate had verbally abused her for making statements to a workplace investigation, and a passenger accused her of intimidation by staring at her with a smirk on her face after loudly identifying her as a complainant on a train trip.
Meanwhile, another co-worker, who was dating Ms Rombola's ex-husband at the time, complained to police that Ms Rombola and her boyfriend would deliberately ride their motorbikes past her house and then stop in front of it, revving their engines.
'Indicative of a culture'
Ms Rombola denied the claims and the RTBU argued her employer's failure to act on the allegations at the time was "condoning conduct" that meant it could not rely on them.
Fair Work commissioner Peter Hampton said supervisors' failure to address or report Ms Rombola's conduct was "indicative of a culture, which the Rail Commissioner may now be attempting to change".
However, he said excluding such conduct "would be a case of form triumphing over substance".
He found Ms Rombola's evidence "unconvincing" and her behaviour towards her promoted colleague was "more than bad language".
"The tone and manner of the comments and the associated conduct was clearly unreasonable and properly described as serious bullying, even in a robust workplace where inappropriate language was common and tensions between employees were known to exist."
Ms Rombola's "abuse of [her] position" by intimidating a train passenger was "particularly significant", he said.
The commissioner held there was not enough evidence she had revved up her motorbike outside a coworker's house, and the alleged conduct was "largely a personal issue" in any case.
Nevertheless, he found she had engaged in "a pattern of conduct which undermined the necessary trust and confidence in the workplace" and rejected her application.
This article first appeared on www.afr.com
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