BlandsLaw - Blog posts from bullying
Please select your page
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn

Flawed Investigation: Employer liable for sexual harassment

We wrote earlier this year about a VCAT decision in which an employer was found to be vicariously liable for sexual harassment by an employee.[1] In another case, with similar factual circumstances, the South Australian Employment Tribunal has found an employee and employer jointly liable for the sexual harassment by the employee of a co-worker.

 

 

Facts

The accused employee in this case had recently started working as a chef at the Adelaide supermarket, Pasadena Foodland. Shortly after he commenced employment another employee working in the juice bar made a complaint that the chef was touching her inappropriately, including an allegation amounting to sexual assault. The employer states that it viewed CCTV footage and concluded that the complaint was not made out. The employer did not speak to the chef, did not take any further action to investigate the complaint and did not inform the juice bar worker that no action would be taken.

It was not until 30 June 2017 that the chef was even made aware

Read more

Understanding bullying and reasonable management action

Informing employees of underperformance can be a difficult task for employers, particularly when employees don’t handle the feedback well. It is a common scenario that disgruntled employees retaliate by making a ‘bullying’ claim against their supervisors. The good news is that employers are well within their rights to implement processes to rectify poor performance to steer workers back on track. Provided that the steps taken by the employer constitute reasonable management action that has been carried out in a reasonable manner, the worker’s bullying claim will not succeed.

Read more

The importance of responding to bullying allegations

Employers are urged to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment fairly, promptly and in accordance with their relevant company policies. Otherwise, they may find that an employee seeks intervention from the Fair Work Commission under the anti-bullying provisions which give the Commission power to stop bullying and harassment at work in its tracks.

In a recent case[1], a Ramsay Health Care (“Ramsay”) catering assistant applied to the FWC for an order to stop bullying at work alleging that her manager and HR Advisor failed to investigate or take any action into her complaints of continuing bullying and victimisation. The employee had attended a meeting to discuss allegations against her of unauthorised absence from work and breach of a reasonable management request. Following these allegations, the employee raised bullying and victimisation complaints.

The catering assistant alleged that a group of colleagues made jokes about her, eavesdropped on her conversations and singled her out. Further, she claimed that she was abused and repeatedly accused of being drunk at work,

Read more

The fine line between harmless banter and sexual harassment

Both employers and employees need to be able to differentiate between harmless comments and conduct that crosses into bullying and sexual harassment territory.

When employees do not appreciate how their comments have affected others in the workplace, they commonly claim that they were “only joking”, “just mucking around” or state that they didn’t realise their comments would cause offence. Whilst an appropriate level of workplace banter is heathy and can contribute to employee rapport, employers should ensure that staff understand what is and is not acceptable at work, and deal with any breaches of these standards so that it does not become part of the accepted workplace culture.

In a recent case,[1] a Technical Support Consultant at the Foxtel Call Centre was dismissed for ongoing instances of inappropriate behaviour, repeated sexual innuendo and inappropriate jokes in the workplace. The FWC considered 10 allegations of sexual harassment raised by the employee’s co-workers and, where substantiated, whether these instances formed a valid reason for his dismissal. The employee had been

Read more

More Articles