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Newcastle Herald

Email firing 'act of a bully'

Date: 05/03/2011
Words: 305
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: News
Page: 14
A UNIVERSITY of Newcastle academic who claims she suffered a psychological injury after years of bullying at work has been sacked from her job with two days' notice.

Dr Michelle Adams received an email on February 16 from vice-chancellor Nicholas Saunders informing her that her employment would be terminated effective from February 18.

The 44-year-old mother of two filed an unfair dismissal claim with Fair Work Australia on Monday and a hearing has been set down for March 23.

The microbiologist has been on sick leave from the university since August 2009.

The Newcastle Herald reported last year that Dr Adams claimed she endured years of harassment and bullying after raising allegations in 2003 that two fellow academics plagiarised a student's honours thesis.

Dr Adams said she viewed her termination via email with two days' notice as the "ultimate act of bullying from the university" and she would continue to fight for her job.

A university spokeswoman said yesterday that medical advice was that Dr Adams was unfit to perform her duties.

"Subsequent action by Dr Adams indicates that she agrees with the medical assessment," she said.

"Dr Adams's employment has ended due to her ongoing incapacity to perform her role. We wish her well in her future endeavours."

With the assistance of the National Tertiary Education Union, Dr Adams lodged an application with UNiSuper in August to be considered for total and permanent disability.

This has yet to be determined.

Dr Adams said she had not done anything wrong and was not "going to let them walk all over me".

The case dates back to 2003 when it was alleged two academics used cardiovascular disease data collected by a student without the student's knowledge.

Following a re-investigation of the matter in 2009 both academics were counselled about "the need to carefully and fully acknowledge authorship in all aspects of their work".


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