News

What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 08 April 2024 – 14 April 2024

First Successful Safework NSW Prosecution for Discriminatory Conduct Under The WHS Act Employers will be familiar with Australia’s anti-discrimination laws. However, a lesser-known protection that often falls under the radar is in the anti-discrimination provisions of work health and safety legislation. In this case, SafeWork NSW succeeded in what appears to be the first prosecution for discriminatory conduct under the NSW safety laws. The District Court of New South Wales accepted that an employee had been discriminated against under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) when he was stood down after exercising his rights as a workplace health and safety representative. At the time, the employee, Mr Seremetidis (the Employee), was a high lift truck driver and an elected health and safety representative (HSR) working for Qantas Ground Services Pty Ltd (QGS) at Sydney International Terminal. Section 85 of the WHS Act empowers a HSR to...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 01 April 2024 – 07 April 2024

Female Tradies in Australia Changing Their Names To Get Job Interviews Because: “We Don't Hire Women and We're Not Going to Interview You” Female tradies in Australia are altering their names to appear more masculine in an attempt to land an interview with a potential employer, according to reports. Hacia Atherton, Empowered Women in Trades chief executive and founder, shared with 9News the discrimination faced by women in traditionally male-dominated trade industries. "Some of these women have been calling over 30 employers trying to get an interview for vacancies that are being advertised and these women are actually being told: 'We don't hire women and we're not going to interview you,'" she told 9News in an interview. "Gender doesn't make you a good plumber or a bad plumber," she told 3AW. "It's your skills, your ability to problem solve, your ability to use your hands. It doesn't matter if you're a...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 25 March 2024 – 31 March 2024

Can a Break-Up Lead to Unjust Dismissal? The Fair Work Commission recently dealt with an unfair dismissal case involving a worker who claimed she was wrongfully terminated by her former partner when their romance broke down. In August 2023, the worker and her employer's personal relationship broke down, leading to significant hostility between them. The employer issued a letter to the worker, alleging that she had made 12 unauthorized transactions from the company's bank accounts and had attempted to prevent him from operating the business by changing the password for its email account. The worker declined to attend a meeting to discuss the allegations, and the employer subsequently sent her a termination letter on September 2, 2023. The FWC found that the personal and professional relationships between the worker and her employer overlapped significantly, with the boundaries between business and personal expenditure being unclear. There was a significant degree of...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 18 March 2024 – 24 March 2024

Landmark AHRC Project to Improve Prevention and Response Strategies for Sexual Harassment at Work The Speaking from Experience Project invites people, especially those from minority groups, who have experienced workplace sexual harassment to help Sex Discrimination Commissioner Dr Anna Cody and the team to improve prevention and response strategies in Australian workplaces. “Speaking from Experience is a pivotal step forward in our collective efforts to prevent workplace sexual harassment and promote safer, more inclusive and diverse workplaces,” Dr Cody said. “By listening to people who have been sexually harassed at work, we can drive meaningful change and create workplaces where everyone feels respected, valued, and safe.” In-person consultations in Perth with Dr Cody and victim-survivors of workplace sexual harassment will commence this week. People who wish to make a written or audio submission to the AHRC can go to the Commission’s website for more information. Stereotypes, Discrimination, and Biases Against...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 11 March 2024 – 17 March 2024

Custody Officer at a Justice Complex Unfairly Dismissed The Fair Work Commission heard an unfair dismissal case in relation to a worker who was dismissed from his position as a custody officer at a justice complex (court). The worker was involved in an incident with a Person in Custody (PIC), during which the worker head-butted the glass portion of the PIC's cell door. Following an investigation into the worker's behaviour, the employer terminated his employment. The worker argued that his termination was unfair, citing factors such as insufficient support from the employer, understaffing, and his admission of the conduct as mitigating factors. The worker and his colleagues testified about the challenging work environment at the FJC, including understaffing, high turnover of experienced staff, and the need to deal with difficult Persons of Interest (POIs) and PICs. The FWC recognised the importance of psychosocial health in the workplace, particularly in environments...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment,  Discrimination and Bullying from 4 March 2024 – 10 March 2024 

Mental Health Commission Fails to Offer Psychological Safety Internally  SafeWork NSW found the state’s Mental Health Commission has breached workplace health and safety legislation over its management of bullying and other issues of the organisation’s culture.  A SafeWork NSW spokesperson said on Wednesday: “SafeWork NSW last week issued three improvement notices to the Mental Health Commission regarding the management of psychosocial hazards in the workplace including bullying, job and role clarity and work over- and under-load. SafeWork’s enquiries are ongoing and further comment is not available at this time.”  Former Female Staff at Sydney's Elite Cranbrook School Warn Of 'Toxic' Culture as it Prepares to Go Co-Ed  Teachers given fluffy handcuffs. Wolf-whistling and orgasm noises on playground duty. An attempted blackmail for nudes. Being told you can expect to be sexually harassed because you're good-looking. Victimisation, a toxic culture, a boys' club. These allegations by former female teachers and staff...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 26 Feb 2024 – 03 Mar 2024

Worker who quit 'in the heat of the moment' did not constitute resignation The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently dealt with a worker’s claim that his termination was ended at the employer’s initiative when he resigned “in the heat of the moment.” He asserted that the employer should have clarified his intention, especially since he left in an emotional state. Li maintained that he did not resign but left due to illness, supported by medical documentation. On the other hand, Vaux insisted that Li resigned and offered him re-employment under specific conditions, which Li rejected. Despite no explicit resignation letter, Li's actions, including leaving and returning to drop off keys and collect belongings, were interpreted by Malvern Tyres as resignation. However, the FWC found that the circumstances suggest a momentary emotional reaction rather than a genuine intent to resign. The FWC further said that Li had acted in a similar...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 19 Feb 2024 – 25 Feb 2024

Family and domestic violence at work Safe Work Australia has updated the Family and domestic violence at work information sheet to reflect changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 around entitlements to paid family and domestic violence leave. Managing the risk of family and domestic violence at the workplace is complex and needs to be handled appropriately and sensitively. It becomes a WHS risk if the perpetrator makes threats, intimidates, or carries out violence on a partner or family member at their workplace, including if they are working from home. This information sheet provides guidance on how persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) can help provide a safe environment for workers and where to seek further advice. Check out the information sheet – Family and domestic violence at work and see the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website for information on changes to the Fair Work Act. Sexual Harassment and sexism is on the rise for women...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 12 Feb – 18 Feb 2024

Case against Perfection Fresh one of the biggest workplace sexual harassment and assault cases in Australia Proceedings have commenced in the Federal Court, whereby 12 women, supported by the United Workers Union, are suing fresh product giant Perfection Fresh after working at Two Wells Glasshouse in South Australia and allegedly being sexually harassed. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the women allege repeated sexual harassment from two men in positions of “authority, trust and control”. These allegations include instances of unwanted sexual advances, including grabbing the women’s bottoms and breasts, with one of the men accused of exposing himself to more than one woman. According to national plaintiff law firm Slater & Gordon and the UWU, this action is one of the biggest workplace sexual harassment and assault cases in Australia. Department of Infrastructure taking steps to reform workplace culture The Department of Infrastructure has said it is taking...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Unfair Dismissal, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 5 Feb – 11 Feb 2024

Employee accused of misconduct reinstated following 'deeply flawed' investigation The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has reinstated an employee of a mining company after his employer failed to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of misconduct. The decision is a reminder for employers to ensure that they have the necessary expertise and procedures in place before conducting internal workplace investigations, particularly when there is conflicting witness accounts and limited documentary evidence. In March of 2023, the applicant was accused of instigating sexually explicit conversations with other male colleagues and sharing pornography on his mobile phone on a bus ride at the end of a work shift. Following its investigation, the respondent terminated the applicant’s employment on the basis that he had engaged in “inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature towards new female trainees.” The FWC held that the respondent did not have a valid basis for dismissing the applicant and ordered...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 29 January 2024 – 4 February 2024

Government to Introduce New Provision Which Give Workers a Right to Disconnect The government is set to introduce a new workplace provision in the first sitting week of Parliament in 2024 which would allow workers to tell their boss to stop making unreasonable contact outside of work hours. Crossbenchers Senator Lambie and Senator Pocock have voiced their concerns with the measures in the remaining elements of the Closing Loopholes legislation. Additionally, the government has faced backlash from businesses over the proposed provisions. Bran Black, Business Council chief executive, demanded that the government consult on the proposed change (of which the details are confidential). Mr Black stated that “we are disappointed to see the government try to introduce the ‘Right to Disconnect’ amendment at the 11th hour with no consultation and no detail on what it will entail, and we fear it will be rammed through the parliament next week.” However,...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 22 January 2024 – 28 January 2024

Lawyer Fired for Internet Browsing History Receives Compensation A lawyer claimed he was fired in relation to his internet browsing history, among other performance issues. His employer argued that it had a valid reason for his dismissal as the lawyer had “wasted” a significant amount of time on the internet instead of assisting a valuable client. In May 2023, the director of Chrysiliou IP Pty Limited expressed concerns about the lawyer’s perceived lack of responsiveness to a client’s legal matter. He told the lawyer in an email “I am a little concerned about this – as mentioned a couple of times before, the client has indicated that this is urgent yet no draft or even an email with an update has been sent to the client!” The lawyer was warned a final time in June 2023, with the director stating in an email “your lack of communication with the client...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 15 January 2024 – 21 January 2024

Former ABC Presenter Antoinette Lattouf Says She Will “Fight for as Long as it Takes” in Unlawful Termination Case Antoinette Lattouf, a former ABC presenter and journalist, says that she will “fight as long as it takes” in her unlawful termination case against the broadcaster. Ms Lattouf lodged an unlawful dismissal case against the ABC after her five-day assignment presenting at ABC Radio Sydney was terminated two days early. According to her Fair Work Commission claim, Ms Lattouf submitted that the ABC informed her she had breached the organisation’s social media policy for posting content from Human Rights Watch in relation to the war in Gaza on her personal Instagram account. The unfair dismissal claim has alleged that Ms Lattouf, who is of Lebanese heritage, was dismissed based on her race. After the Fair Work Commission hearing on Friday this week, Ms Lattouf said that “the matter didn’t resolve today...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 8 January 2024 – 14 January 2024

Gender Pay Data on Private Sector Employers Soon to Be Made Public On 27 February this year, the Workforce Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) will release the first set of private sector employer gender pay gap data. The collected data will cover reporting from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023. The information will include median gender pay gaps, gender composition and the average remuneration per pay quartile. The publication of this data is now legally mandated as part of the Closing the Gender Pay Gap legislation passed in 2023. The data will “reflect the difference in average earnings between an employer’s female and male employees, not the differences in pay at the same level, for the same work.” John Myers, the founding director at Perple, said that “with so many directors about to see their gender pay metrics for the first time, there is likely potential for some surprising divergent,...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 1 January 2024 – 7 January 2024

Adelaide Hospitals Address ‘Sexist’ and ‘Humiliating’ Behaviour of Surgeons with Eye Posters Researchers have discovered a new way to tackle “sexist” and “humiliating” behaviour by surgeons in operating rooms in Australia. A junior doctor and intern representative for Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Rose Petrohilos, said that it was “not uncommon” for surgeons to describe fellow medical staff in the operating theatre as “incompetent”. Further, Dr Petrohilos said that “gossip in the operating theatre is also very common”. She said that “some surgeons talk disparagingly about other surgeons while they’re not in the room” and that “jokes made in the operating room can also be quite sexist.” Research has shown that the majority of health care workers have experienced “rudeness, derision, insulting remarks, humiliation and being ignored.” To address this, University of South Australia professor Cherri Ostroff developed the idea of printing images of eyes and placing them on the walls...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 25 December 2023 – 31 December 2023

New South Wales Mental Health Commission Allegedly Has ‘Toxic Workplace Culture’ The New South Wales Mental Health Commission, which is responsible for improving the state’s mental health and wellbeing, is facing a “disastrous” employee survey which revealed that it is “one of the unhappiest workplaces in the public service.” The workplace culture involves bullying and micromanagement, with the decreasing morale outlined in the latest People Matter Employee Survey. Several employees have described the commission as “the worst workplace [they’ve] ever experienced”. One staff member said that “the commission has a widespread and well-known poor and toxic culture” and that “there is a joke amongst employees that if you didn’t have a mental health condition before working there, you will after, and sadly in most cases this is true, [as I’ve] seen many people destroyed by their experiences at the commission.” A spokesperson for the commission said that “the NSW government...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 18 December 2023 – 24 December 2023

Safe Work Australia Releases ‘Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment’ Web Page Safe Work Australia released this week a “sexual and gender-based harassment” resource page. The web page contains an overview and includes information relating to WHS duties, such as how to manage risks. Further, it contains resources including: • Preventing workplace sexual harassment – guidance for small business; • Workplace sexual harassment – advice for workers; • Model Code of Practice: Sexual and gender-based harassment; • Model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work; and, • Infographic: Workplace sexual harassment – Your WHS duties. Fortescue Metals Group Avoids Prosecution Over Failing to Produce Sexual Harassment Documents Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has avoided prosecution for failing to produce documents in relation to dozens of sexual harassment allegations on its mine sites after it had agreed to spend $1.4 million on “strategies to address inappropriate workplace behaviours in the mining industry”. FMG...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 11 December 2023 – 17 December 2023

Controversial Lawyer Nathan Buckley Faces Discipline for Social Media Posts The New South Wales (NSW) Law Society’s council brought an application against controversial lawyer Nathan Buckley in late 2021. The council alleged that his social media activity in 2021 amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. In one of his posts, Mr Buckley is accused of writing that lawyers who wanted to succeed in the profession “would have to give up everything you believed in,” adding “unless you are in a position of power, you’re not getting anywhere”. Mr Buckley has also been accused of writing that “as soon as you take on the establishment, the Law Society will be over your arse like a wet dildo”. Mr Buckley submitted that there were “preliminary issues” with the Law Society’s application and objected to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s (NCAT) jurisdiction to hear the matter. Justice Susanne...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 4 December 2023 – 10 December 2023

Independent Review Reveals Bullying, Harassment and Safety Concerns at a South Australian Forensic Mental Health Service An independent review has revealed reports of bullying, harassment, gaslighting and feeling unsafe at work at a South Australian forensic mental health service. The external review was conducted in light of a letter sent by “concerned staff” at James Nash House in Adelaide this year, which alleged a culture of bullying. The review said that “there were many signs and symptoms …before the circulation of the anonymous letter which triggered this review.” The report found a “significant number” of staff members had reported bullying and harassment, while many claimed they did not feel psychologically safe at work. The report said that “concerningly, a few described ‘gaslighting’ and suicidal ideation. Some staff resigned.” It said that “these observations were reflected in high turnover rates, absenteeism and a workplace which relied heavily on industrial representation to...
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What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 27 November 2023 – 3 December 2023

Is Working from Home and Flexibility Dying Out? The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently dealt with a case against an Adelaide man who wanted to work full-time from home. The case has occurred in light of a number of large corporations (such as Commonwealth Bank, NAB and IBM) who have ordered their employees back into the office. In the case, the Fair Work Commission upheld the employer’s decision to refuse an employee’s application to work solely from home. The Commission ruled against the employee, who had applied for flexible working on the grounds of having to care for his child every second week and for suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Commissioner Platt ruled that Maxxia’s grounds for refusing Mr Charles Gregory’s request to work exclusively from home were “based on reasonable business grounds”. Luke Giribon, principal of Calvados + Woolf, stated that “these considerations by the FWC appear to transcend...
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Public Courses

Our next public courses in Perth are as follows:

Contact Officer Workshop

Date: TBC
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Grievance Officer Workshop

Date: 16th April (Day 1), 23rd April 2024 (Day 2)
Venue: Kambarang Room, 99 Loftus Street, Leederville
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Grievance Officer Report Writing Workshop

TBC
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