Former employee wins lawsuit against Cairns Regional Council

Former Regional Council employee Paul Ackers wins his case against Cairns Regional Council.

Mr Ackers won $1.1 million in damages in the lawsuit against the organization after suffering a psychiatric injury.

Mr Ackers claimed he suffered from a psychiatric injury due to the excessive hours he was forced to work due to understaffing in the unit.

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He then claimed to have been targeted by the Regional Council via a performance management plan.

The case was first launched by Mr Ackers in November 2018 alongside a claim for $1.3 million in damages which he claims was caused by the organization’s negligence.

Mr Ackers’ trial only went to trial in February this year and lasted 18 days on various dates from February to July.

Judge Jim Henry ultimately awarded Mr. Ackers a total of $1,099,132.69 in damages.

The prosecution argued that Mr Ackers now suffered from a stutter accompanied by a tremor in his forearm due to severe anxiety, depression and the PTSD he suffered from at work.

The trauma is believed to have occurred between 2014 and 2015 after the 51-year-old was given two warrants ‘to fix the staff and fix the system’ by former chief financial officer John Andrejic.

An electronic payroll system was in use at the time, which required extensive manual entry by the payroll team to ensure payroll was processed in a timely manner fortnightly.

Mr. Ackers managed to change this system, but was rebuffed by staff who were unhappy with the changes.

This led to a mass exodus of personnel which put enormous pressure on Ackers and left the department short-staffed for a long time.

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Elna M. Lemons