AN award-winning entomologist headhunted from Britain is taking the CSIRO to Federal Court alleging he was harassed, bullied and unlawfully terminated.
Sylwester Chyb — an expert in insect neurobiology — also claims the national research body violated its own misconduct policy by failing to investigate his grievances and tolerating the bullying.
He also alleges in his statement of claim that CSIRO misrepresented details of his employment and failed to meet its contractual obligations.
“This is more than a personal dispute,” argued Dr Chyb, previously with Imperial College London, where he set up the Laboratory of Molecular Physiology.
Dr Chyb claimed international scientists could be put off by his experience and the apparent clash of scientific cultures.
Huw Morgan, a spokesman for CSIRO, said that “as the matter is before the courts it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time”.
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In 2005, Dr Chyb was offered a permanent position as a molecular cell biologist, with responsibility for establishing a program in sensory and signalling biology, targeting pest management.
“There were initial surprises, but I rolled up my sleeves a bit higher and rolled on,” he said.
Dr Chyb will cite early disagreement over who would supervise his area, as well as a dispute over pay rises and the meaning of terms in his contract.
Those matters and Dr Chyb’s dismissal on January 4 this year have been joined as a Fair Work Australia claim to the Federal Court action.
Dr Chyb claims problems began in 2008 when he developed a major depression as a consequence of personal matters unrelated to work and was on intermittent sick leave from December 2008 to February 2009.
Dr Chyb claims “things went south” in August 2009 when he stood down from the position of deputy to his program leader.
While he awaits a court date, Dr Chyb’s lawyers advised him yesterday that his claim for support from the workplace regulator ComCare had been accepted.
He applied for funds to cover the recreational leave he used during his depression.