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In a damning judgment, a federal judge has slammed a tech CEO as “standing with the bullies” rather than defending the bullied.

The federal court said Adrian Di Marco, executive chairman of software group TechnologyOne, had been “deceptive and self-serving” in the way he handled the bullying complaint and subsequent dismissal of one of his top managers.

Justice Duncan Kerr ruled Behnam Roohizadegan, a former regional general manager, had been wrongfully terminated in connection with the workplace bullying claims he made against executives in 2016. The court ordered Roohizadegan be paid $5.2m for his unfair dismissal.

In court, Di Marco claimed he dismissed Roohizadegan on account of his performance and alleged misconduct towards other employees.

But the court rejected Di Marco’s argument when it found the complainant was one of the company’s top-performing managers and was duly recognised with awards and financial incentives.

The tech CEO purportedly refused to follow HR advice after he was told it would be unfair to terminate Roohizadegan based only on “mere allegations”.

The judge ruled Di Marco ultimately chose to “stand with the bullies rather than the bullied” and that the CEO’s actions towards the complainant were “deceptive and self-serving if not cruel”.

Roohizadegan’s departure was said to have cost him his mental health. The judge found the verbal and psychological abuse the man purportedly experienced at the company rendered him “incapable of ever working again”.

TechnologyOne said it was disappointed with the outcome of the long-standing case and planned to appeal “as soon as practicable”, adding that it has “always acted with integrity” towards its staff.

“It is important that contractual arrangements are written by companies, in such a way, so that they cannot be interpreted by a former employee in later years, in our case 10 years later, in a way that was never intended by the company,” chairman Adrian Di Marco said.