Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Council workers told ill colleague was 'mad'

An Auckland Council manager told staff their colleague was "mad" and had faked a collapse that left her in hospital, a council employee says.

The allegation is the latest in a series of complaints about managerial bullying at Auckland Council, after an independent lawyer found environmental services department boss John Dragicevich had bullied six staff.

The long-term employee said one manager had bullied at least a dozen council staff.

"There is definitely a bullying culture at the council. This manager is awful, the worst I've ever met." "

The same manager was responsible for treating a woman who had claimed to be raped "very cruelly" after her collapse, the employee said. "The manager broke confidentiality and told other staff the woman was mad, that she invented her symptoms. A lot of people witnessed that collapse, she did not fake it. The manager wasn't even there that day."

A doctor who monitored the woman wrote to the council and said her collapse was genuine.

The rape victim subsequently left the council and said she could not comment.

The Whaleoil blog has reported she received $15,000 compensation. Two staff bullied by Dragicevich also resigned and were paid out $300,000 in confidential settlements.

A whistleblower emailed council chief executive Doug McKay two weeks ago alleging the alleged rapist had worked with the woman at the council, and she had been the victim of subsequent bullying by her manager when she complained of trauma. The woman told police she was raped after a few drinks with colleagues after work. No one was charged.

Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the email was sent to adult sexual assault detective sergeant Carl Lewens over a week ago, but Lewens said on Friday he had not received it.

In an emailed statement Mayor Len Brown said he could not comment on individual cases.

"I have been briefed by the chief executive and I am confident any allegation is taken seriously and investigated to ensure the most appropriate outcome."

McKay said: "Bullying is unacceptable. I am confident we have the policies and processes to deal with it."

- Herald on Sunday

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