October 2013

28 – 3 November 2013

Sydney Morning Herald

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner condemned an attack on members of Sydney’s Jewish community saying it was a reminder that racial vilification could escalate into racial violence. Four men and one woman were assaulted by a group of eight males in Bondi on Friday in what was allegedly an anti-Semitic attack. Police have charged two 17-yr old boys with affray and breaching bail. A 23-yr old man was also charged with affray and granted bail.

Neoskosmos.com

A new report says that despite Australian’s embracing multiculturalism, discrimination against ethnic minorities is on the increase. A hardening of attitudes towards asylum seekers was also evidenced by the research. While the findings indicate strong levels of support for the concept of multiculturalism, more than half of those did not agree that ethnic communities should receive public funds to maintain customs and traditions.

PS News

Negative cyber communication in the workplace will be the subject of a study by two doctoral researchers. An anonymous online survey has been developed that will ask public servants to identify examples of workplace cyber communication that could be considered cyber bullying. The outcome of the research is to identify whether negative workplace cyber behaviour was occurring across the Australian public sector and the impact it has on employees’ mental and physical health and work performance.

Smart Company

A four-year legal battle between a public servant who sustained a sex injury during a work trip and Comcare was drawn to a close after the High Court ruled the employee would not be compensated. The woman suffered facial injuries when a light fitting above her head ripped loose during vigorous sexual activities. The decision has more clearly defined what is meant by workplace injury. Previously, the federal Court had decided that because the woman was sent on the work trip and her employer chose the motel, the government was liable for everything that happened to her while on the trip. However, on appeal the High Court said that the employer needed to have encouraged or induced the activity for them to be liable.

The Age

A cultural epidemic of sexual harassment is taking place in rural Australian workplaces, but little is being done to tackle the issue. Recent research showed 73% of employees said they had been sexually harassed by a colleague, while 70% said they had witnessed a colleague being harassed. In the agricultural industry, 93% of women said they had been harassed. Ms Saunders, who was conducting the research said that some of the worst stories she heard came from the mining industry. In one case she spoke to women who tolerated as a relatively regular norm men urinating in their boots. She also found that women who had suffered harassment were often reluctant to talk about it.

Sydney Morning Herald

Last week the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance launched a new national initiative to support women working in media. This follows recent attention about female mentors and role models for women. Senior women will offer formal mentoring to female colleagues in a bid to reduce workplace inequity, combat bullying and give support and advice. The Westpac Women of Influence Report confirms that Australian women are looking to role models with a bit of integrity, rather than women considered to be celebrities.

Sydney Morning Herald

The number of cases of assault and mistreatment in the military that have been referred to police has doubled to 18 since August. These cases are believed to include rapes and serious assaults. The cases are being referred by a taskforce that was set up in the wake of the Skype Scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Mr Roberts-Smith, who heads the taskforce, said the cases range from workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying, physical assault or abuse, to the most serious cases of sexual assault including gang rape. More than $3 million in reparations has been paid to victims of abuse.

CCH

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has dismissed an employee’s adverse action case after finding that his employer did not dismiss him because of bullying and harassment complaints he made. The employee, S, worked as a project design engineer and soon after his employment commenced, S claimed that he was bullied and harassed by a number of employees. However, S’s manager M said that S continually underperformed on projects and was confrontational and aggressive. S and M had several meetings with HR in an attempt to resolve this. In January 2012 the company was restructured and S’s manager changed. However, by the end of February S had taken sick leave due to alleged harassment and bullying by a new manager P.

The court found that S was entitled to complain about M and P as he was exercising a workplace right in doing so. However they also held that the real reason for his dismissal was that he would not accept instructions from his managers.

Smart Company

The AMMA in partnership with Australian Women in Resources Alliance have put together a series of workshops to help employers attract and hire more females. The campaign hopes to increase female numbers from 15.5% to 25% by 2020. Research also suggests that having more women in leadership teams can lead to greater return in capital and improved economic growth of the firm. Last week Australia was ranked 24 out of 136 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. Chief executive of AMMA said it was concerning that Australia was outside the top 20.

The Australian

The Abbot government is moving to impose an appeals body over the nation’s workplace umpire, declaring concern over the inconsistent decisions of the Fair Work Commission. The body would be headed by a coalition employee and would establish a new avenue for appeal against the Commission’s rulings.

Perth Now

Ms Palmer learnt the hard way about sexual harassment in workplaces. She discovered that a male co-worker had been spreading vicious rumours about her, some of them sexual. She thought that she would do the right thing and ask him to stop. However, the conversation didn’t go well and ended with him abusing her in front of other co-workers. She didn’t report it because she was afraid that she would lose her job. After the conversation Ms Palmers shifts were all cancelled and she was only given a handful of days of work. What happened to Ms Palmer sends a message to all of the other workers, to put up and shut up in the face of bullying, no matter how bad.

Perth Now

Unions are compiling a shame file of bosses who have mistreated pregnant staff, including a bakery assistant who gave birth prematurely when forced into hard labour. A supermarket manager made the woman scrub floors and push heavy trolleys, despite three medical certificates requesting lighter duties. One in every five complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act relates to pregnancy discrimination. The Fair Work Ombudsman has investigated 133 pregnancy discrimination complaints in the past six years. Most cases were settled through mediation but five employers were prosecuted. There have been many cases where employers have refused to let pregnant employers take extra toilet breaks. 28% said they had received inappropriate or negative comments from a supervisor after they fell pregnant.

21 – 27 October 2013

International Business Times

Sexual harassment can often fly under the radar and this makes it harder to study its roots, and discover effective treatment. In 2011 a poll found that one in four women said they had been harassed at work and another poll of Londoners found that 43% of women between 18-34 were harassed in public spaces. Anna Hart, a columnist, writes that most men can’t fathom the toll of harassment because they haven’t lived it. The consequence of sexual harassment for women can lead to PTSD-like symptoms, strained relationships with other partners, as well as feelings of social isolation or alienation from co-workers. A study has also found that male harassment of women is often related to aggression rather than seduction. Bystanders can be powerful tools in combating harassment in the workplace, according to a report by the AHRC. Elizabeth Broderick said, that if we don’t support and encourage the targets of sexual harassment, we run the risk of creating cultures that tolerate sexual harassment.

Mondaq:

A Bill enabling WorkCover to revive work health and safety prosecutions and to vest jurisdiction in the District and Local Courts has been introduced into the NSW Parliament. The Bill is intended to make it clear that WorkCover can bring proceedings for WHS offences.

HC Online

The AHRC’s Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review has begun. This follows statistics that show that approximately 19% of female employees believed they have experienced some level of discrimination in the workplace while pregnant. This was most commonly missing an opportunity for promotion (34%), missing training or developing opportunities (32%), and receiving inappropriate or negative comments from a superior (28%). In the 2011-12 reporting period 21% of complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act related to pregnancy discrimination and family responsibilities. The commission is encouraging women to make submissions now.

The Herald

The Australian Breastfeeding Association Newcastle Group will celebrate babies during the Baby’s Day Out weekend, 26 and 27 October. It is hoped that the weekend will highlight the right for mothers to breastfeed anywhere, any time. Under Australian law breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege and it is illegal to discriminate against a person either directly or indirectly on the grounds of breastfeeding.

The Age

Is our workplace culture broken?
Incompetence, arrogance, ruthlessness and selfishness are vices that are rife in Australian workplaces. What is worse it is seen by many as the only way to climb the corporate ladder. These characteristics are described as ’great career moves’, and the ‘pre-requisite for success’. This suggests that companies aren’t walking the talk when it comes to implementing inclusive and nurturing workplace cultures.

Women’s Agenda

It is sadly true that many young women don’t have the confidence to back themselves by putting their hands up for the next big career move. Anna Burke recently said the problem for women is ‘they think they will get meritorious selection but, there is no meritocracy.’ It is important to distinguish between a mentor and a sponsor; a sponsor goes in to bat for you. They are an advocate, someone who puts their own reputation on the line for you. Sponsorship means that behind closed doors a woman’s achievement will get the hearing it deserves.

The West Australian

The AHRC says there has been a 60% increase in the number of racism related complaints it has received in the past year. Although complaints are made by both genders, women seem to bear the brunt. A speaker at a forum on women and racism said that legislation needs to be toughened to give women more access to help, and that it is a problem that has a disproportionately negative effect on immigrant women. There is significant bullying against immigrant women in the workplace, their appearance is labelled, and people try to mimic them. Muslim women wearing the hijab have trouble getting work despite the strength of their resume.

CCH

According to a new study, workplace flexibility is believed to have a positive effect on engagement, motivation and satisfaction at work. The survey revealed that most workplace flexibility programs are offered by fewer organisations in 2013 than in 2010. Overall the survey did show that employers are continuing to utilize workplace flexibility programs and that it works best in an organisation where the concept of flexibility is part of the organisation’s culture and where employees feel free to request flexibility as needed.

ABC News

The CIT has apologised to victims of workplace bullying. The Commissioner for Public Administration investigated allegations of bullying and misconduct at CIT and recommended the institution apologise for past failures in the management of such complaints.

Sydney Morning Herald

Flexible work is becoming a large part of the modern Australian workplace. Employers need to carefully plan arrangements to reduce the risk for the employee and liability for the employer. More than half of all working Australians regularly undertake work away from their primary business location. Employees have significant rights to request flexible work arrangement under the Fair Work Act. However, this movement towards flexible or ‘digital work’ has exposed businesses to liability. For example an employer must be satisfied that the working environment is safe.

Smart Company

Scanlan & Theodore has won an unfair dismissal case brought against it by an employee it made redundant after she fell pregnant. Ms Schultz informed her manager in March that she was pregnant and that she would be taking maternity leave later that year. In June she took some sick leave for a few days and alleged that once she returned her managers treated her with disdain. Later that month she was made redundant. She asked if this was because of her pregnancy and was told it was not. She then applied to the Federal Court for unfair dismissal.

Judge O’Sullivan disagreed with her application. He indicated that S&T has experienced diabolical sales numbers in recent months and had already made several employees redundant, and they had warned of future redundancies. S&T had a history of supporting 95% of female staff while they took maternity leave. The fact that the employer has a good history of complying with their obligations is helpful and will influence a Court’s decision.

Sky News

A recent study has found that nearly two thirds of women have had a male work colleague behave inappropriately towards them. 21% of these women classified this behaviour as persistent. When it came to inappropriate comments and touching more than half the offenders were more senior members of staff, who were often married. 40% of men surveyed said they had also been victims of sexual harassment.

14 – 20 October 2013

The West

Less than two years after his central role in a Skype sex scandal, Mr McDonald allegedly helped found an all-male sex initiation ring at the ADF. The group existed for nine months before it was exposed at a Canberra nightclub in June. Seven cadets were suspended over the incident. It is likely that Mr McDonald will be dismissed from the defence force. Mr McDonald still faces sentencing for his involvement in the Skype scandal. Prosecutor Kylie Weston-Scheuber said that McDonald has failed to show any remorse or explain his actions.

ABC

Jo Swinson, a British politician has urged women to ask their bosses what their male peers earn as a step to equalise the gender pay gap. There is a similar problem in Australia, women on average earn 17.5% less than men working full time. Research has shown that since 1990 the gender wage gap has barely shifted. This means that on average women earn $1m less than their male counterparts in a lifetime and super balances are 43% less than men’s at retirement.

Mondaq

A Canberra interior designer was sacked from his day job when his boss found he was using LinkedIn to connect to potential clients for his small out-of-hours business. Even though his employer allowed him to work in his private capacity on smaller jobs, the Fair Work Commission ruled the employer was within its rights to fire him as he was soliciting work from his employer. The case highlights that what people post on social media isn’t necessarily a private matter separate from employers. Employers should have a strong social media policy in place including ongoing obligations for departing employees.

The Herald

Depression costs Australian employers about $8 billion each year and $693 million of that sum is due to job strain and bullying. Safe Work Australia is proposing a draft guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying. Ms Collins from Safe Work said that the code of practice would get a consistent message out there right across Australia.

Social Justice Solutions

Bullying is a term that describes all sorts of behaviour but it does not convey enough about the operation of power, obscuring direction in hierarchical structures, and blurring distinctions between formal and informal sources. 95% of school staff experience bullying as well as more than 70% of health professionals, a large proportion of public servants, police and armed forces. Describing a situation as workplace bullying does suggest something is not quite right but is too vague when the problem is abusive management. Workplace bullying is not specific enough to convey abuse of power in hierarchical workplaces. Worker abuse is a more useful concept in such situations.

The Australian

Secrecy produced by hospital systems where obstetrics trainees are harassed or sacked for taking maternity leave is so toxic that junior female registrars swap tips about timing their pregnancies. One trainee said that ‘everybody knows that you wont get a placement if you’re pregnant or planning on getting pregnant.’ In one case a college trainee in a placement had her job offer withdrawn, despite having already signed a contract, because she found out she was pregnant after securing the placement.

Canberra Times

Bosses would be banned from demanding access to job seeker’s Facebook pages and other social media accounts under potential changes to national privacy laws. The ALRC said that the use of social media accounts to assess candidate for work is an area of growing concern. It is illegal to ask job seekers for social media passwords in 13 US states. However, workplace relations lawyer Mr de Flamingh said there was no need for any such laws in Australia as it is not an accepted practice in Australia.

The Conversation

The presence of only one woman in Tony Abbott’s cabinet has prompted renewed calls for the introduction of quotas. Discrimination is integral to a meritocratic system. A merit-based system discriminates on the basis of how much merit a person has and favours those who have more. It is important then to look at how perceptions of merit are shaped and influenced. Even though women are overrepresented in tertiary education they are still underrepresent in senior roles, this is not an equal playing field. Studies established that in situations where merit was emphasised as a basis for selection, men were more likely to be selected compared to equally rated women. This is explained through unconscious bias. Organisations can make some aspects of their selection processes gender blind by removing gender-identifying information from resumes.

Seven News

The AHRC says there has been a 60% increase in the number of racism related complaints it has received in the past year and that women bear the greater brunt. Immigrant and refugee women suffer a ‘triple whammy’ when racially vilified. Professor Triggs says the rising number of complaints could be because of media attention given to a number of high profile incidents: because people are more aware of it they are more willing to stand up for themselves. The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board has said that despite 20yrs of racial vilification laws there as not been one successful complaint.

WA Today

After widespread criticism in relation to their recruitment form, Chevron issued a statement to employees on Friday saying that many of the questions asked on the global form were not relevant for local employment situations and the form would be amended. The forms will be amended to ask only medical information relevant to the position. The criticism was sparked after one job applicant said she was shocked after being questioned about any stillbirths, abortions, or children born with defects she may have had. She said that she was pleased that the form would be revised to eliminate intrusive and inappropriate questions.

The West Australian

Vanessa Guthrie, managing director of Toro Energy said the mining industry was a leader in gender equity in employment, but there was still a long way to go. She said that she had experienced negative bias firsthand, she said that whenever she walked into a room the men in the room put their hand out to shake hands first with the men before turning to her. She said behaviour like this was very subtle, intuitive and subconscious but can signal to women in executive roles that they are not welcome. She said this might be one of the reasons many women ‘self-select out’.

The Age

Linfox has stood down 2 warehouse workers who complained publicly about alleged bullying and harassment. On Wednesday 200 workers held a public protest over what they say is a culture of bullying at the site. Comcare is investigating the allegations. Mr Price one of the men stood down said that a number of managers had engaged in bullying at the warehouse. Another worker, Ms Palmer said that she had been dismissed after accusing a colleague of sexual harassment.

07 – 13 October 2013

Perth Now

Employees suffering from mental illness are often discriminated at work because of the stigma attached to the topic. 74 South Australians contacted the States Equal Opportunity Commission seeking information about unfair treatment. From this 21 complaints were lodged. Experts warn the problem was under reported. Discrimination can occur in a number of different ways but most common is when an employee is returning to work after having time off because of a mental health issue. One in four Australians said they had witnessed mental health discrimination in their workplace.

Caboolture News

More than half of Australia’s female general practitioners have experienced sexual harassment from their patients. The most commonly reported behaviour was a request for an inappropriate examination. 64% of female doctors reported getting such a request. Other forms of harassment included inappropriate exposure of body parts, gender based remarks and touching or grabbing. Two thirds reported having changed their consulting style to include a more formal manner during consultations. Only 6.7% of female doctors reported ever getting help to avoid further harassment.

CQ News

Impairment and race still spark the most number of discrimination complaints in Queensland but more breastfeeding mothers are standing up for their rights. The Commission received 6 complaints in 2012-13 compared to just one in the previous financial year. This followed the national outcry after a mother of three was asked to stop feeding her baby in the open at a pool. Race and sex discrimination allegations remained significant, followed by family responsibilities pregnancy and age. The number and proportion of work related complaints show that workplace fairness is the most significant area of people’s lives.

ABC

A research project in Tasmania is trying to better understand workplace bullying and harassment. Kevin Harkins said that WorkSafe had been conducting a pretty-in-depth survey within the community. He was hopeful that the results would provide information on how to move forward and how to resolve problems. Last year 68 people were injured at work as a result of bullying or harassment.

Sydney Morning Herald

Women are increasingly becoming the victims of ‘revenge porn’. This is where former partners post often intimate, sexual pictures on dedicated websites or circulate them to family and friends. The idea is to destroy a woman’s reputation. For example one woman’s professional reputation was ruined after a photo of her lying on a lounge in her lingerie was sent around the office. It graphically described sexual activities she liked and included her address, personal email and phone number. She was dismissed not long after and believed the email was the reason.

The Inverell Times

Technology has allowed bullies to pursue victims outside the confines of the schoolyard or the workplace. The majority of people logging on to social media sites when they get home are still faced with aspects of bullying. This has become a concern for the AHRC. They have said it has a huge impact on people’s right to be the person they want to be. One in 10 people have been targeted and at least one in five have witnessed this type of bullying. It is these bystanders that can make a critical different in targeting bullying.

CCH

A train driver who was dismissed has been awarded $100 000 compensation. He was dismissed after he refused to sit a competency test. His refusal was based on his unwillingness to sit the test because it would be in breach of his duty to protect his own and other’s safety. The driver had been involved in an accident and due to this he felt unwell and anxious when he attempted to take control of the train at the beginning of the test. His subsequent dismissal was held to be unlawful.

Smart Company

A significant stigma remains in the workplace about mental illness, however Mr Savoia believes this is slowly changing. Savoia has schizophrenia, which he says reduced his confidence and his motivation to work. However, he now finds that his job gives him a sense of purpose. A 24-year-old supervisor hired him. Research has found that Gen Y mangers were the most willing to employ someone with a mental illness. 42% of Gen Y managers said they were likely to hire someone with a mental illness. However, that figure fell the older a manager got. Overall only 27% of managers said they were willing to give someone with mental illness a chance.

Mining Australia

Gas company Chevron has been criticised for posing intrusive questions to job seekers. In a survey provided to job applicants they asked if they had ever been pregnant, had an abortion, ever contracted an STD or whether they take birth control. The questionnaire also asked about smoking status and alcohol consumption. Workplace lawyer Shana Schreier-Joffee said that asking these types of questions are not illegal, it is how the employer uses the information that becomes problematic. A Chevron spokesperson said that the information is used by medical professionals to assess a job seeker’s ability to work in the role.

Daily Telegraph

Unions want to know about the level of bullying in Tasmanian workplaces. New figures show work related harassment and bullying injuries have reduced in the past 12 months. WorkSafe Tasmania’s figures show 68 injuries in Tasmanian workplaces were cause by work-related harassment and bullying in 2012, compared with 129 injuries reported in 2011. However, Workplace Relations Minister Mr O’Byrne said mental health related injuries had grown by 6% in the past year.

Smart Company

Professional women earning over $65 000 are less likely to be overlooked for a job if they have a mentor. A study of professional women found 41% had a mentor or role model inside their company and a further 13% had a sponsor, someone in the workplace in a position of authority who can help them move up the ladder. Of the 40% of women without a mentor, 94% said they wanted someone who could provide them with support. 35% of women without a mentor, role model or sponsor said they had been overlooked for a job.

Australian Financial Review

Workplace lawyers are reporting a rise in bullying claims by senior executives who complain they are being victimised by groups of colleagues who sit below them. This has become known as ‘mobbing up’ and involves groups of workers acting together to undermine a particular executive. Mr Hor says that a study would likely find there was less bullying in Australian workplaces than in previous years, but the number of complaints was increasing. He said that in some cases bullying claims were used by workers to insulate themselves from disciplinary action or to exact revenge on a colleague.

Pro Bono Australia

More than one in five Australians have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to mental illness. The study found that 69% of people were uncomfortable disclosing a mental illness to their employer and more than a third said they never would. These results demonstrate that some people have a real fear about potentially negative consequences should they tell their employers and their colleagues that they are mentally unwell.

WA Today

Slator and Gordon’s industrial lawyer Simon Millman said the recruitment form that Chevron used asking personal questions would breach several discrimination and privacy laws. One job applicant said that filling out the form had been a traumatic experience, as she had to answer questions regarding stillbirths, abortions and whether she had any children born with defects. She also said that she was shocked by the gendered focus of the form. Mr Millman said these types of questions breached National Privacy Principles.

The Australian

Research by Local Government NSW from 400 interviewees revealed 45% of women felt they had been harassed, bullied and subjected to sexist remarks. The report found that bullying had been identified as an issue contributing to the low level participation of women. Nicole Campbell was eight months pregnant when she endured her male colleagues trying to force a return date before she had had her baby.

30 Sept – 06 October 2013

BBC

A disabled man in the UK has won a legal ruling against a bus company over its wheelchair policy. Mr Paulley was told he could not get on a bus because a pushchair user refused to give up the space because their baby was asleep and they didn’t want to wake the baby up. Mr Paulley was told by the driver to get off the bus and wait for the next one. Mr Paulley was awarded 5500 pounds in compensation and the company has been given 6 months to change its policy to give priority to wheelchair users over prams.

Smart Company

An unidentified business has lost an unfair dismissal case after it terminated an employee following a report from a psychiatrist in which the staff member was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The FWC found that the company misinterpreted the remarks that although the employee wasn’t fit for work at that time, he could have been in the future if he sought appropriate treatment. An employer has the right to request a psychiatric evaluation if there are sufficient grounds on the basis of the employee’s behaviour. But instead of dismissing the employee the employee in this case could have received treatment and continued to work.

Canberra Times

Initial findings of the report Hard to Get a Break? showed more than half of workers surveyed were unhappy with their work hours. An estimated 2.9 million lose sleep due to work stress. The current labour environment is creating high levels of stress; depression and poor sleep patterns for many Australians with adverse effects on their health, family life and relationships. While many workers feel overworked 24% still want to work more hours the report showed.

Herald Sun

Mr Lowe, the boss of Queensland’s taxpayer funded movie industry has been on leave since an investigation was launched into claims of workplace bullying. At least seven senior staff have left in the year since Mr Lowe took the job. It is understood that the investigation involves allegations by three former staff about Mr Lowe’s style of management, with claims of harassment, poor communication, failing to engage with colleagues and bad language. The investigation is thought to be close to completion. He said the big staff turnover had created uncertainty, which has culminated in Mr Lowe’s absence.

Lexology

October 2013 is Mental Health Month, which is aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues. 45% of Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives, which means that awareness and adequate coping strategies are critical for employers. A report issued by Safe Work Australia this year found that the instance of accepted mental stress or illness workers compensations claims actually decreased in the period from 2003-04 to 2010-11. However, there is only a 68% acceptance rate of mental health claims compared with a 90% success rate for physical injuries.

Mondaq

Victoria and Western Australia have still not adopted the model harmonised WHS laws. WA may consider implementing model harmonised safety laws however there are four areas which the WA government has advised they would not change –
• Penalty levels
• Union right of entry
• Health and safety representatives’ capacity to direct the cessation of work
• Reverse onus of proof in discrimination matters
Victoria has advised that there will be no change to its current existing safety laws.

Smart Company

A locomotive driver successfully sued his employer for $95 000 for firing him based on a mental and physical disability. The company has also been fined $5000 out of a possible $6600 and highlights the need to ensure protection against these types of claims. This case highlights how adverse action claims have grown in popularity under the Fair Work Act as it offers legal recourse for employees who cannot make an unfair dismissal claim.

Mr Flavel was employed as a train driver and mostly headed up long haul shipments of mining materials. In 2011 he was found to be at fault for an accident involving another train. He was given a final warning and told he would need to conduct another test to make sure he was competent. The training supervisor told Flavel that due to the crash he could expect to experience some aspects of post-traumatic stress. Indeed when Mr Flavel conducted the competency test he felt ill and asked to stop. He was subsequently dismissed. Judge Simpson said that because the respondent was requiring Mr Flavel to undertake duties that they knew, or at least expected, he would be unable to perform, meant he was dismissed not because of performance issues but due to an illness or disability. This is in contravention of workplace laws.

Online Opinion

A new survey has revealed one in ten employers won’t hire a worker older than 50. Age discrimination is a major workplace law issue as older workers find it increasingly difficult to be hired by younger bosses. The survey also found that half of employers believed that older workers are at a higher risk of being made redundant. A third of business leaders also said that older workers did not like being told what to do by a younger person, are more forgetful and dislike new technology. 15% of employers said that older workers complain a lot and 11% felt that older workers were grumpy or short tempered.

Pro Bono Australia

Brian Hartzer, the Chief Executive of Westpac, said that quotas are not a gender issue but about competitiveness and productivity. He said that the issue of unconscious bias deserves more attention than it has received in the past. In his experience he believes that very few men in senior business roles are consciously biased against the advancement of women. However, often they inadvertently contribute to work practices that make women feel excluded, develop candidate pools in ways that overlook women and select these candidates on a model of what they think is needed to be successful without realising this is based on their experience of male approaches to the role. However, he says that quotas are not the answer. He said that Westpac instead has set a target of having 40% women in leadership roles, and that they achieved this target two years ahead of schedule. He says that ‘unlike a quota it is a target we want to hit.’

The Australian

A police inspector who left a can of dog food on another inspector’s desk has lost an appeal against his demotion. An inspector in ethical standards command in Brisbane found a can of dog food and a note saying ‘enjoy’ on his desk. Mr G initially denied any knowledge of the dog food, but later admitted it was him and was disciplined for the incident. Last year after it was found that Mr G had lied during a disciplinary interview it was held his behaviour amounted to misconduct and he was demoted. Mr G argued that this was an over reaction. The tribunal heard that in the weeks leading up to the dog food incident the two inspectors had been involved in a number of workplace disagreements. Tribunal member Joanne Brown said that Mr G had failed to uphold the high ethical standards expected of him and found that the conduct involved workplace harassment of another senior officer and lying.

Canberra Times

A woman who said that years of sexual harassment in the Royal Australian Air Force contributed to a psychological illness has failed in her bid for compensation. Ms Costa says she endured inappropriate sexual comments from her comrades and a lack of protection by senior officer left her feeling uncomfortable and unsafe. Her challenge in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal failed after evidence showed she told treating doctors during and after her service that her psychological problems were caused by family, marital and money problems. The tribunal accepted that there were multiple causes of her illness and that she found the culture of the RAAF difficult. But the tribunal decided the work problems were ‘mere contributing factors’ that did not cause her condition ‘in a material degree’ and that she was not entitled to compensation.

Herald Sun

Energy Australia boss Richard McIndoe has denied he abolished the corporate affairs unit in his company just so he could fire an employee who had blown the whistle on sexual harassment claims. Charles Gunst QC acting for Ms Shea said the restructure went against company policy and was only carried out after Mr McIndoe became aware of the allegations by Ms Shea. The case is still continuing.

CCH

At least one in five Australians has been discriminated against as a result of mental illness. Mental Health Council CEO Mr Quinlan said that these results show a serious problem with stigma in this country. Research also found that more than two thirds of respondents said they felt uncomfortable about disclosing a mental illness to their employer while a third say they would never do so.

Link to the report –

CCH

The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland dealt with over 3000 discrimination inquiries over the course of the 2012-2013 reporting period. 57% of complaints alleging discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification and victimisation were resolved through conciliation. Of the finalised complaints 27.5% were related to impairment discrimination and 10% were about race discrimination, while 8% alleged sex discrimination. A further 9.7% were related to sexual harassment.

Herald Sun

Bruce Guthrie at Graduate Careers Australia has said that women concerned about earning 17.5% less than men should become engineers rather than nurses. Mr Guthrie said that female university students needed to consider careers that will give them better pay in the long run. He said that if there was a sudden influx of female students into engineering within 4-5 years a great deal of that pay discrepancy would disappear. Mr Guthrie said when men and women have the same job; type of employer and field of education there is only a 3% difference in pay.