What’s been happening in Australia in relation to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying from 10-16 August 2015

Close to home, a Federal Court judge has ordered the MUA and two of its members to pay $215,000 in penalties and compensation after a WA branch distributed ‘vengeance’ posters degrading those that did not take part in a strike at the Fremantle Port. The posters described the workers as ‘scabs’ and were distributed over two days. The judge found that the intention of the poster’s was to inflict emotional distress and fear on each of the named employees. The action was brought by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Half of female fellows had reported being sexually harassed during their surgery training. The Royal Australian College of Surgeons has heard from the majority of submissions that discrimination of younger surgeons, particularly women, was rife.
There was also a fear of reporting sexual abuse or harassment in case it led to retaliation or damage to their reputation as budding surgeons.

While some submissions said it worked both ways and women were also willing to offer sexual favours to get ahead professionally the majority of submissions suggested that the sexual harassment was predominantly more senior males to more junior females- come on surgeons this is an opportunity for some significant work to be done.

Workers in Sydney and Brisbane who were dismissed by text message have secured a court order barring the termination of their employment. The MUA is arguing that the company breached its enterprise agreement by failing to adequately consult workers and ignoring a dispute resolution clause before announcing the forced redundancies.

The real issue appears to not be the dismissal by text message but the process they didn’t go through before they dismissed their staff.

Having said this there are good ways to dismiss someone which demonstrate respect and empathy to the person and I would suggest via text message doesn’t cut it!

An employee of the Commonwealth Bank has failed to prove he was being bullied at work in the Fair work Commission’s stop bullying laws. He claimed he was ‘micromanaged’ by being made to attend two performance management meetings a week and singled out for breaching the bank’s clean desk policy (when in fact it had to do with him leaving a confidential document on his desk overnight).

Mr Aly said he was unnecessarily micromanaged and ‘nit picked.’ Mr Aly applied for a stop-bullying order. However, Commissioner Bissett, found Aly’s managers had “reasonable grounds” to find Aly’s work performance needed managing and they did not hold him to a higher standard of performance than other employees in the same role.

Bissett found Aly’s managers took a reasonable approach to managing his performance, offering support and assistance to help him improve his work performance. The commissioner also disputed the claims that Aly was micromanaged and required to attend too many meetings.
“Each detail of his work was not being scrutinised to an unreasonable level such that a claim for micromanagement could be sustained,” Bissett said.

This is a good case that demonstrates the distinction between reasonable performance management (lawful) and bullying (unlawful).

The decision in CF and NW v Company A and ED provides the first published reasons for making an order to stop bullying. Two employees of a small real estate business had allegedly been the subject of belittling conduct, swearing, yelling and physical intimidation by the Property Manager. The manager resigned from her employment and took up a similar position with a related company.

The employer conceded that based on the undisputed facts a finding of bullying could be made. Due to the employer’s concession Commissioner Hampton was able to make a finding of bullying without having to resolve the disputed facts. This finding was partly based on the fact that the employer did not have any formal anti-bullying or grievance resolution procedures in place.

The Commissioner then made orders that there would be no contact between the parties and that they would not attend each other’s work premises. He also made orders to address the broader concerns with the culture of unprofessional and unreasonable conduct at the workplace including that the employer provide anti-bullying training and an updated anti-bullying policy and complaints handling procedure to all staff.

When was the last time you reviewed your bullying policy and procedure and complaint management process. For further information on what a good anti-bullying policy and procedure looks like contact Franca from EEO Specialists on (08) 6102 4411