What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 11-17 July 2022

Victoria To Restrict Deals Silencing Sexual Harassment Victims

Victoria has accepted and is implementing all 26 recommendations from the ministerial taskforce on sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is to be added to industrial laws and made an official occupational health and safety issue. The onus is being put on Victorian businesses to provide employees with a safe workplace, protected from sexual harassment. This includes restricting the use of non-disclosure agreements to stop victims of sexual harassment speaking about their experiences. This is an Australian first.

Peer Support Program Includes Sexual Harassment Modules

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA and Lifeline WA have announced a new peer support program that will include modules on sexual assault and harassment. The program will be implemented in WA mining and resource operations. The program – the Resourceful Mind – was tested as a pilot last year at companies such as Roy Hill, Woodside and Simcoa. The program aims to equip employees with skills to communicate about mental health. The mental health aspect of the program will be delivered by Lifeline’s expert crisis supporters.

Australian Meat Industry Employees Union v Primo Foods Pty Ltd [2022] FedCFamC2G 540

In the recent Federal Circuit Court decision, it was held that Primo Foods was within its right to dismiss a quality assurance officer for breaching its confidentiality policy. The former employee discussed pay with other employees. The Court said the dismissal was “reasonable” due to concerns of staff conflict and privacy. The complainant contended that the termination was not in response to privacy concerns but a reaction to a bullying complaint he had made previously. It was contended that the employee was subject to ongoing workplace bullying from a manager. The Court found that this was not the cause of termination.

Lancaster v Foxtel Management Pty Ltd [2022] NSWSC 929 (12 July 2022)

The New South Wales Supreme Court recently discussed compensation for psychological injury resulting from bullying and harassment in the workplace. There was no dispute that the plaintiff had suffered psychological injury as a result of treatment at work. The issue was the extent of the injury. In NSW, the psychological injury is compensable if it is a permanent impairment of at least 15%. In 2020, a medical specialist determined the plaintiff’s injury to be at 9%. The Court dismissed the appeal to seek judicial review of the Personal Injury Commission decision to reject the application for compensation.