What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 11 – 17 December 2017

Mine Worker Re-employed Due to Lack of Evidence of Sexual Harassment
The Fair Work Commission has granted a Queensland mine worker his job back after he was dismissed for allegedly engaging in inappropriately sexual behaviour (in the case of Mr Vincent Wilson v Anglo Coal [2017] FWC 4386). The complainant, Person A, claimed that Vincent Wilson breached Anglo American Moranbah North Mine’s sexual harassment policy by patting or squeezing her backside and for initiating “conversations of a sexual nature with [her]”. Mr Wilson denied these accusations and labelled them “quite offensive”. Ultimately, the Fair Work Commission found in favour of Mr Wilson for lack of sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims. It said that Person A had contradicted herself under cross-examination and that a “valid reason for dismissal was not made out”. It went on to say that, “For clarity, in the current environment… nothing in this decision should be construed as condoning sexual harassment at a workplace in any way”. Anglo American Moranbah North Mine has stated its intention to review the decision and to continue to “address any behaviour inconsistent with [their] values including where there has been bullying, harassment or other harm to [their] employees”.

Hospital Dismisses Nurse for Racist Facebook Post
A nurse of Broome Hospital has been dismissed after posting a racist message on Facebook outside of work. On the issue of children breaking and entering into Broome homes, Kevin Naughton had commented to, “Just f***cking bash them within an inch of their useless, worthless lives… let’s f*** these little c***s up, we’ve got bullbars for a reason”. The use of the word “bullbar” supposedly referred to the death of indigenous teenager, Elijah Doughty, which sparked riots in 2016. Mr Naughton, who claims to have been intoxicated when he made the comment, has since apologised. However, WA Country Health Service maintained that, “All staff are bound by the WA Health Code of Conduct and any breaches of this policy may result in disciplinary action”. According to Jonathan Mamaril, an employment law specialist, such a case is indicative of the growing trend of workplace issues growing out of social media. While not made at work, he noted that, “anything that brings your company’s reputation into disrepute” could be considered when a company is scrutinising an employee’s behaviour for misconduct.