Apprentice sues employer after savage workplace prank

A young apprentice who was slapped while being hung upside down by his colleagues at a Christmas party is taking the company to court.

Ilyas Elkharraz, 23, claims to have been “degraded, humiliated and embarrassed” by the incident that was filmed by his colleagues.

Footage shows at least one person slapping the young worker as others are heard laughing in the background.

“I felt like a piece of meat about to get cut,” Mr Elkharraz said.

“After a week I started to get flashbacks. I got nightmares from it. It’s like I was a cow, hanging upside down.”

Mr Elkharraz, who moved to Australia from Morocco, quit his job after the abuse last year and launched a case with Victoria’s WorkCover.

He said he worked at the shop for three years but claimed he was still a first-year apprentice carpenter because his boss stopped him from going to TAFE – a core requirement of any Australian apprenticeship.

When he raised the issue, he claimed the business owner threatened he would lose his job if he took time off to study.

Tony Carbone, from Carbone Lawyers, said his client could have been seriously injured during the prank, saying he could have fallen down and hit his head.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this still goes on’,” he said.

“If the thing they tied around his legs were to snap or loosen and he hit his head on the ground, now you’re dealing with brain damage or quadriplegia.”

He said workplace bullying cases were on the rise in Australia.

“In every 50 people that ring me, at least 15 are bullying cases,” he said.

“When you have been degraded and humiliated to that extent you just don’t know what the long-term effects are.”

WorkSafe Victoria confirmed it was investigating the incident, which carries heavy financial penalties.


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