A Melbourne boss is trying to avoid conviction after he slapped a young apprentice while the man was strung upside down from a crane at a workplace Christmas party.
Steven Yousif, 29, repeatedly hit Ilyas Elkharraz’s bare chest at the December 2020 event in one incident of bullying at Melbourne Glass Solutions.
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Elkharraz lodged a complaint with WorkSafe, telling investigators he was also verbally abused and threatened by Yousif between April 2019 and May 2021.
The carpentry apprentice said he felt anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal thoughts as a result of the bullying.
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WorkSafe investigators first attended the Tullamarine work site in April last year where Yousif handed over requested documents.
The company director declined an invitation to be interviewed.
Another apprentice carpenter also came forward, claiming Yousif threatened to terminate his employment and stopped him from attending TAFE classes between March and October 2019.
Steven Yousif repeatedly hit Ilyas Elkharraz’s bare chest at the December 2020 event in one incident of bullying at Melbourne Glass Solutions. Credit: 7NEWS
Yousif on Monday pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain for his employees a working environment that was safe and without risk to health.
His lawyer Joseph D’Abaco said his client had been a young and inexperienced boss at the time of the offending.
“He was driven to make Melbourne Glass a successful operation – he pushed himself and others to the limit,” he told the court.
“He now realises his conduct was wrong and has no place in the modern workplace.”
Yousif was embarrassed with how he acted and he apologised unreservedly to the two men for the pain and distress he caused them, D’Abaco said.
Steven Yousif has pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates Court to failing to provide and maintain for his employees a working environment that was safe and without risk to health. Credit: 7NEWS
D’Abaco urged Magistrate Andrew Sim to hand down a sentence without conviction otherwise Yousif’s second business Jaden Commercial Windows would suffer financially.
Melbourne Glass Solutions is no longer operating as a company.
Jaden would miss out on tenders if a conviction was listed against Yousif and his employees would be collateral damage through no fault of their own, D’Abaco said.
But the magistrate noted Yousif would have to declare the offending in any tender applications, regardless of whether a conviction was listed.
Prosecutor Tristan Joseph said it was appropriate for a conviction to be handed down.
He said although Yousif was only charged because he was the sole director of the company, the offending was more serious because he carried out the bullying.
But D’Abaco said the magistrate should not see it as an aggravating feature.
Sim adjourned his sentence to next month so he could take time to consider the penalty and whether or not a conviction should be recorded.
The maximum sentence available is a fine of $80,595.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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