What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 16 March 2020 – 22 March 2020

Be Aware of Racism in the Midst of the Coronavirus

Helen De Cieri, a management professor at Monash University Business School, has said that managers play a crucial role in allaying fears and creating inclusive workplaces amid the COVID-19 crisis. Since the start of the outbreak, Australia has seen a rise in racism against people of Asian descent, prompting Australia’s Chief Medical Officer to condemn xenophobia. Professor De Cieri said that it is important for managers to continue to enforce and encourage a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and bullying. Professor De Cieri noted that employees who are under stress are more likely to use greater stereotypes and create more ‘out-groups’. These coping strategies could play out in harmful ways in the coming months and need to be monitored.

Avanade Awarded Employer of Choice for Gender Equality

Australian tech firm Avanade has been awarded the 2019-20 WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation. The award recognises Australian companies that are leaders in achieving gender equality. This year, the 2019-20 EOCGE citation was amended to include stronger criteria. ‘The criteria for the 2019-20 citation cover leadership, strategy and accountability, developing a gender-balanced workforce, gender pay equity, support for caring, mainstreaming flexible working, preventing gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying and targets for improving gender equality outcomes.’ Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)’s Libby Lyons says the citation helps drive significant change within organisations. Lyons said that companies like Avanade ‘are closing their pay gaps and increasing their representation of women in management at a faster rate than other employers in our dataset.’ ‘These findings alone demonstrate the tangible and positive impact of the EOCGE citation,’ she added. Among other notable policies, Avanade, it has successfully implemented the following:
• ‘Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) which help foster inclusion and learning, develop solutions and services that contribute to business success and enhance personal and professional development.
• Equitable parental leave to support equal responsibility for childcare.’

$2m Claim of Bullying Against ClubsNSW

A former employee of ClubsNSW has launched proceedings against the industry group alleging bullying, sham contracting, underpayment and other breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). ClubsNSW is an industry group which represents 1,000 sporting and recreational clubs. It has also successfully lobbied against poker machine reforms in the past. Troy Stolz was as an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance (AML/CTF) compliance auditor at ClubsNSW for nine years before resigning last September. In proceedings lodged with the Federal Circuit Court, Stolz alleged that ClubsNSW and senior staff bullied and blacklisted him. Stolz alleged that ClubsNSW was plagued by a toxic culture of bullying and harassment. In his statement of claim, Mr Stolz says he was yelled at and subjected to belittling and derogatory comments by ClubsNSW manager Jim Terrie. Mr Stolz claimed to have made two formal complaints about ‘bullying and harassing conduct’ to senior ClubsNSW executives. ClubsNSW allegedly ‘did not investigate the complaints… [and] did not take any action to stop Mr Terrie’s bullying and harassing conduct.’ Stolz stated that another staffer also made a complaint to ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball about Mr Terrie’s bullying. However, this complaint was also unsuccessful in prompting a response from the organisation. The now unemployed 51-year-old says the harassment he received from ClubsNSW continued long after he resigned in September last year. Stolz is now seeking $2 million in damages for lost earnings and back-pay since his resignation. ‘Everyone is entitled to earn a living,’ Stolz said. ‘I’ve got kids to feed and bills to pay. I can’t even get a job picking up glasses.’ ClubsNSW has until May 21 to file a defence to Stolz’s claims. If the case goes before the Federal Court, it could reveal details of the inner workings of one of Australia’s most powerful lobby groups.