What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 14 January 2019 – 20 January 2019

Female Soccer Team Coach Sacked Due to Bullying Allegations
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has confirmed that Matilda’s Coach, Alen Stajcic, has been sacked. Two anonymous surveys conducted by bullying campaigner, Our Watch, identified issues with Stajcic’s management of the woman’s professional soccer team. The Football Federation of Australia have not found a replacement to Stajcic, but stated that swift action was needed in the interests of the players welfare. CEO of the FFA, David Gallop, refused to discuss the details of the accusations due to the confidential nature of the surveys. However, in a media statement he confirmed that the sacking was linked to broad ‘cultural’ issues within the Matilda’s team management.

Former Employee Successful In Unfair Dismissal Claim where Employer Abused Him
A Brisbane Apprentice has been successful in his unfair dismissal claim against former employer, Smerff Electrical. In May 2018 Jordan Lamacq was sacked by Smerff Electrical over allegations of theft and misuse of the company vehicle. In addition to the accusations, Mr Lamacq’s former employer sent him a torrent of ‘appalling’ text messages. Among these included a message containing the phone number for Fair Work Australia. In an attempt to intimidate Mr Lamacq, his employer wrote: ‘do you know how many calls they get per day? Do you know what [Fair Work] do about it? Nothing.’ However, in hearing the application the Fair Work Commission found in favour of Mr Lamacq’s unfair dismissal claim. The Commission’s Deputy President, Ingrid Asbury, said that ‘no employee should ever be subjected to the threats and abuse’. Asbury subsequently awarded Mr Lamacq $11,400 in compensation.

Spikes in Sexual Harassment Claims Linked to Office Christmas Parties
Spikes in sexual harassment claims filed in January have been linked to office Christmas parties. The findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Survey support this. The National Survey into workplace sexual harassment found that social events and functions were the third most common location for workplace sexual harassment to occur. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, who spearheaded the survey, said that the levels of sexual harassment around Christmas time were ‘disturbing’ and ‘well-documented’. Employment expert, Christie Toy, acknowledged the trend and said that ‘there’s a tendency for people just to get through the Christmas period’. She continued that, ‘when it comes to January and they’re faced with the perpetrator again, that’s when the calls come through’. Ms Toy urges everyone to speak up, reminding victims that there is a six-month limitation period to bring forward a claim under Australian law.

Disabled Employees Experience Almost Twice the Rate of Bullying
Disabled employees have reported much higher rates of bullying than their non-disabled co-workers, the NSW Public Sector Report has found. The Report lists 30% of disabled employees as having experienced workplace bullying within the public sector. Meanwhile, only 18% of public sector employees experienced bullying generally. Co-CEO of People with Disability Australia, Therese Sands, is disappointed in the figures. In a media statement she said that ‘[t]his simply isn’t good enough’, especially since people with a disability comprise ‘nearly 20 per cent of NSW’s population’. In response to the Report, Ms Sands has called for the NSW Disability Inclusion Minister to drive cultural and attitudinal change within the public sector. She said that this was necessary in order to facilitate greater inclusion of people with a disability within the workplace.

Former Telstra Employee Suing Manager for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
A sexual harassment case has been lodged in the Federal Court against mobile magnet, Telstra. A former employee of Telstra claims that she was victimised, sexually harassed and discriminated against by her manager at the time. It is alleged that her manager made inappropriate remarks to the plaintiff, in addition to having sent her lewd messages. In her application to the Federal Court, the plaintiff sought damages for medical expenses, lost wages, interests and costs. She also requested a formal apology from both Telstra and her former manager. A spokeswoman for the respondent vigorously denied the allegations and stated that they are ‘unfounded’ and a regrettable ‘attempt to be financially recompensed by a large company for loss of employment unrelated to the accused’. The litigation is following a failed attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation before the Australian Human Rights Commission.