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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. She complained to the HR Manager, but no action was taken. Sarah then complained to her manager. After he met with the main respondent, the manager told her that she was not suitable for the job and her probation was terminated.

Sarah had had no complaints about her work - in fact the opposite was true, and she had received praise for her work up until she had complained about the behaviour of the staff. So she made a complaint of sexual harassment to the Commission. When contacted, the company investigated and replied that they found no evidence for most of the alleged misconduct. They insisted that Sarah's dismissal was based entirely on performance issues.

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.

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