What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 10-16 April 2017?

Monjon Charged With Bullying by WorkSafe
John Moncrieff, and his company, Monjon Australia have been charged by WorkSafe for failing to take reasonable care in relation to workplace bullying. Operations manager, Herman Pinto, was also charged with bullying. The matter will come before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on April 21 2017.

Increase in Bullying Reports to Victorian Police
Victoria Police is reporting an increase in the number of incidents of bullying reported. This follows a 2016 investigation by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The first audit following this report will be released in August 2017.

Interim Stop Bullying Order Granted for Employee
In Lynette Bayly [2017] FWC 1886, Commissioner Hampton made an interim order in their anti-bullying jurisdiction of the FWC. Ms Bayly made an application for a stop-bullying order, alleging that senior executive staff at the Bendigo Kangan Institute engaged in bullying behaviour. In her application, Ms Bayly noted that allegations of misconduct were made against her after she made a complaint against one of the executives named in the allegation. Ms Bayly alleges that the investigation into her conduct (and any proposed disciplinary action) constitutes workplace bullying.

Commissioner Hampton made an interim order, staying the employer’s internal investigation of the complaint, preventing the employer from imposing any disciplinary sanction on Ms Bayly and preventing the employer from terminating Ms Bayly’s employment until the matter is determined.

Discrimination Claim for OCD ATO Employee
Former Australian Tax Office employee, Natalie Waters, has filed a discrimination claim in the Federal Court. Ms Waters alleges that her team leader, John Van Blommestein discriminated against her on the basis of her disability, obsessive compulsive disorder. Ms Waters alleges that Mr van Blommestein made a number of comments to her including: “keep your psychosis to yourself” and “the obsessions are all yours.” Ms Waters also alleges that Mr van Blommestein restricted her lunch break to 12:30pm to 1:30pm, instead of 12 noon to 2pm like other employees. Ms Waters resigned in November 2004.

The ATO has denied that its employees discriminated against Ms Waters on the basis of her mental illness. The ATO has admitted that Mr van Blommestein made the aforementioned comments to Ms Waters, but alleges that these comments were made in response to Ms Waters saying that the ATO “was a bad place to work.”

Ms Waters is seeking compensation for economic and non-economic loss, damages for breach of contract and legal costs.

High Rate of Harassment in NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services
A 2016 study into employee conduct in the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services has revealed a culture of discrimination, bullying and harassment. The results included:
• Sixty per cent of respondents reporting experiencing negative behaviours including unwanted sexual attention, sexually explicit remarks, intimidation, discrimination and inappropriate jokes while at work.
• Sixty-two per cent of respondents reporting having experienced some form of bullying in the past five years.
• One in three respondents reported not lodging a complaint about the behaviour because they did not believe that it would be properly investigated.
• Twenty-nine per cent of respondents stated that they believed that they would be protected form reprisals if they reported improper conduct
• Twenty-eight per cent of respondents reported having been discriminated against because of their gender, ethnicity or disability
• One in three respondents from the NT Police Force reported having experienced sexual harassment within the past five years.

The NTPFES has announced a range of initiatives to support diversity and inclusion across the agency. These initiatives include the establishment of an independent Diversity Advisory Board which would include Indigenous Territorians and representatives from multicultural and LGBTQI communities. The NTPFES is also reviewing the complaints procedures across the agency.

Dismissal Valid for Firefighter Videoing While Fire Alarm Went off
Paul Baird applied for an unfair dismissal remedy (in the case of Baird v Airservices Australia [2017] FWC 1946) in respect of the termination of his employment by Airservices Australia. Mr Baird was employed as a leading fire fighter at Melbourne Airport. Whilst on duty, Mr Baird was required to monitor aircraft, monitors and alarm systems. Whilst on duty, Mr Baird videoed himself, simulating playing Launchpad (an electronic device that produces music). Whilst he was doing this a fire alarm sounded and he said “oh f**k ships burning down” and then “safe”. He then returned to the simulation. Mr Baird uploaded this video to Youtube. Mr Baird also uploaded a video that he took during a training course. This video includes a shot from inside the male locker room where a staff member exposes his buttocks.

Deputy President Gooley found that Mr Baird’s conduct was a breach of the Code of Conduct and the ICT Policy. On this basis, Deputy President Gooley found that Airservices Australia had a valid reason to terminate Mr Baird’s employment. Deputy President Gooley held that Mr Baird’s dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Survey of Bullying in NT Public Service
The ‘People Matter’ survey has revealed that bullying is still prevalent within the Northern Territory Public Service. The survey revealed that 22% of respondents have experienced bullying within the past 12 months. Respondents were most likely to be bullied by their immediate manager (41%) followed by a co-worker (36%). The most frequent form of bullying was intimidation. The survey also revealed that 34% of respondents have witnessed bullying in the workplace. Of these witnesses, 89% took some form of action after witnessing bullying – 47% formally/informally reporting the issue, 45% speaking to the person who was bullied and 26% speaking to the bully.