A receptionist who rolled her ankle while rushing to answer the phone wins $120,000 after suing her employer, claiming more could have been done to prevent her injury.
A receptionist who rolled her ankle while rushing to answer the phone has been awarded $120,000 after suing her employer.
- The woman sprained her ankle while hurrying to answer her office phone
- The court heard she had asked for a headset so she could answer the phone from afar, but was denied
- The court awarded her $119,000 plus costs
The woman worked at Canberra cleaning business Broadlex Services, where she was required to answer the phone and perform other duties away from her desk area.
She said that meant she often had to rush from the back room to her desk if the phone began ringing, and on one occasion in 2015, she rolled her ankle while doing so.
The injury she sustained was described as an “inversion sprain” on her right ankle.
Evidence from the woman’s doctor described the injury, which occurred as she leaned over to answer the phone after rushing back.
“She heard a crack, and it was ‘incredibly painful’,” the doctor said.
“She says what made it more annoying was that when she picked up the telephone, the person had hung up.”
The woman lost a previous case in the ACT Magistrates Court, but had the decision overturned by the Supreme Court.
The woman’s case was then remitted back to the Magistrates Court to be heard again.
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She told the fresh hearing that she had requested a headset from her employer before her injury, so she would be able to answer the phone on the go.
Magistrate Peter Morrison said her employer had rejected the request, on the basis that they did not receive enough calls to justify buying a headset.
“However he (and ergo the defendant) knew or ought to have known that the circumstances giving rise to the risk of injury to the plaintiff were recurring,” he said.
“He knew that the performance of her broad range of duties required her to move around the office on a reasonably frequent basis.”
Lawyers for the company argued the number of calls the woman was required to answer each day was relatively low, and that she injured herself while answering the phone, not in the process of rushing.
But Magistrate Morrison said a reasonable company would have provided the woman a headset, to mitigate the risk of her rushing around the office.
“I am satisfied that the risk of harm to the plaintiff was not insignificant and that a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have taken the precaution of providing a headset to the plaintiff to enable her to answer the phone while away from her usual desk at reception,” he said.
Magistrate Morrison awarded her a sum of $119,000 plus costs.