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Sexual harrassment

Sexual harassment means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, where is it reasonable to expect that the other person would be offended, afraid or humiliated.

Kossiedowski v Parvinder & Anor

Tribunal Decision - 9 September 2013

Ms Kossiedowski was employed as an assistant in a small supermarket. She claimed that over a short period of time, she was sexually harassed by her employer, who asked her sexually explicit questions, patted her backside and deliberately brushed against her breasts.

She made a complaint to the Equal Opportunity Commission which did not resolve, and so the matter was referred to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

Health care worker subject to regular sexual harassment by client

Zoe worked for a health care service, providing personal homecare and domestic assistance. She claimed she was regularly subjected to sexual harassment. A client grabbed at her to expose her breasts, asked her to show them to him - and he asked her if she knew anyone who would provide sex for money,which she took as a proposition to her. Zoe stopped working for him and told her manager. The manager asked her to email her complaint to him, but as she did not have an email account she did not do this.

Outcome: 
The matter was conciliated with the health service offering to review their employee procedures; they also provided Zoe with an apology for feeling sexually harassed and unsupported by the organisation, and $15,000 for her medical costs.

Sarah complained of staff's sexual comments but management didn't act

Sarah worked at a spare parts wholesaler, and from day one she felt subjected to sexual harassment. She said that staff made hourly comments about her breasts and bottom, and she was propositioned for sex by them on numerous occasions. She asked the manager to remove pictures of naked women from the office walls, but he refused. She grew increasingly uncomfortable working there. The company sent out explicit pornographic calendars to customers, and she witnessed male members of staff watching pornographic movies at work.

Outcome: 
During conciliation, the company offered Sarah a positive letter of referral, and paid her $3,900 in general damages and hurt to feelings. They also undertook to review the company's management policies, practises and procedures relating to management of HR issues and duty of care.

Supervisor asks staff for sexual favours

Bashir and Mahdi worked as sorters in a metropolitan vegetable packing company.  They said that Danny, their supervisor, made requests for sexual favours from both of them on several occasions.  As a result of rejecting his advances, they were given "the worst jobs".  Danny also brought up the colour of their skin, calling them "black charcoal".

Outcome: 
The complaint was conciliated for both men. The company agreed to send Danny and other relevant staff to a Commission training session on Discrimination and Harassment, ensuring they would provide oral feedback regarding the training to the owner and manager. The company also paid each man $3,000 – and Danny paid them $1,500 – for injury to feeling.

Patisserie manager sexually harassed by owner

Tammy managed a northern metropolitan patisserie.  She alleged that she was sexually harassed by the owner, Luke.  She also said that other workers had approached her, as manager of the store, to complain about sexual harassment by Luke.  Tammy said that she was then dismissed as a result of raising staff allegations and complaints of sexual harassment with Luke.

She made a complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, Luke agreed to provide Tammy with a certificate of service, attend a half-day 'Discrimination and Harassment' course at the Equal Opportunity Commission, and pay Tammy $850.

1 New Message: "ur txts r offensive"

Pauline began work as a receptionist with a small metropolitan company.  Within a month of starting there, Darren, the manager, began to send her sms messages such as, "masturbating will send u blind they say. maybe thats why i cant see properly sometimes" and "ur cute! im all for u".

Pauline complained to Darren and asked him to stop.  After this, she was sacked and given one week's wages.  Pauline then made a complaint of sexual harassment.

Outcome: 
The complaint was settled at conciliation with Darren giving Pauline a letter of apology and paying her $4,500 compensation. He also agreed to attend equal opportunity training.

Manager makes sexual advances and oversteps the mark

Deb worked in a regional supermarket.  She alleged that her manager, Nina, made approaches of a sexual nature to her.  For example, she was sitting on a chair with her arms crossed and Nina attempted to pry her arms apart.  On the same evening, Nina bought Deb drinks at a nearby hotel, and when she took her home she kissed Deb on the lips.  Later, Nina gave her a letter, which said that she drove her crazy, that she thinks of her, she is in her dreams, and wants to kiss her.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, both matters were settled. Nina provided Deb with a private written apology. As well as this, the supermarket's management committed to address Deb's further complaint of victimisation by two other employees arising from her complaint of sexual harassment, and to appoint her as Night-fill Manager.

Claims of unwanted touching and hugging denied

Lynette alleged that Settimo, the manager/owner of the small metropolitan food retailer she worked for, touched her hair, hugged her and repeatedly made comments of a sexual nature.

In response to her complaint of sexual harassment and sex discrimination with the Commission, Settimo wholly denied the allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment, describing them as "totally baseless".

Outcome: 
At conciliation, Settimo agreed to pay Lynette $1,000 for injury to her feelings.

16 year old sexually harassed in her first job

Pam's first job at sixteen was working at a regional petrol station and diner. However, Eddie, the manager, kept making inappropriate comments to her. He left personal notes in her pay packets, and it escalated when he said, "You're killin' me but I'm trying to leave you alone".

Outcome: 
The complaint was conciliated, with Eddie providing a signed written apology and a written reference outlining her length of service with the company, her duties and work competency. He also agreed to seek no future contact with Pam. The business owners undertook to send Eddie to a 'Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace' training session, as well as pay Pam $500 for injury to feeling. Further, both parties agreed to refrain from making adverse comments about the other party to any third party, including current employees of the petrol station.

Female farm worker taunted and harassed

Paulina worked in a regional vegetable grower and processor, and was the only woman in the sorting shed.  One man in particular, Matthew, subjected Paulina to sexist and derogatory comments.  She spoke to the Farm Manager about Matthew's behaviour, asking for a transfer to another section of the company.  The manager refused, so she resigned.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the company agreed to distribute the relevant sections of its occupational Health and Safety policy and information on Equal Opportunity to all staff, and advise them of the importance of reading and abiding by the materials, to direct Matthew to attend a course on discrimination and harassment at the Equal Opportunity Commission, and to provide a written summary of the course afterwards and that Matthew would provide a handwritten apology to Paulina, and publish an apology for