Sacked man loses $42m claim

Tim Clarke
Bullying claim rejected: Hassan Zaghloul. Picture: Facebook

A former senior engineer at Woodside, who sued the company for more than $42 million over claims he was bullied and then unfairly sacked, has had his damages claims rejected.

Until March last year, Hassan Zaghloul was Woodside's principal structural engineer, responsible for the safety and integrity of major offshore assets.

But after being sacked, Dr Zaghloul began a legal battle against the resources giant, alleging a two-year campaign of harassment, intimidation and bullying before his termination.

Details of the claim included an argument that Dr Zaghloul needed a $3000-a-month driver, a housemaid - and $70,000 for cigarettes he said were needed to calm his anxiety. After several Federal Court hearings, Justice John Gilmour has ruled against the multimillion-dollar claims.

"The applicant (Dr Zaghloul) contends . . .that the respondent is vicariously liable for the intentional and/or negligent infliction of psychiatric harm . . . and submits the only issue to be determined is the quantum of damages," Justice Gilmour said.

"The defence filed by the respondent (Woodside) denies each and every allegation of bullying or improper conduct made by the applicant (and) submits that the application is misconceived. I accept this submission."

A University of WA graduate, Dr Zaghloul alleged he was verb- ally abused, intimidated and threatened by his superiors, had his opinions and work discredited, and his career ruined.

He also claimed he was left so emotionally scarred that severe anxiety forced him to leave Australia for his native Egypt. Woodside said it was prepared to call the 10 employees accused of the bullying to give evidence at any trial, as well as eight other workers to counter the claims.

It also investigated Dr Zaghloul's bullying claims, through a private investigation firm. Justice Gilmour said he felt unable to award any damages "in respect of any mental or physical injury suffered". Dr Zaghloul has also launched a separate action against lawyers in the case, alleging professional misconduct.

He had previously accused Justice Gilmour of privately corresponding with Woodside about the case, and of bias, and also alleged a "conspiracy" against him by several law firms.

"I reject the assertions made against me," Justice Gilmour wrote in a past judgment. "The applicant, as a self represented litigant, has been granted considerable indulgences across the various hearings in this case."