What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 17 – 23 April 2017?

IBM Settles Age Discrimination Claims with Former Employees
IBM Australia has reached a settlement with two former employees who alleged that they were made redundant from their respective positions on the basis of their age.

In 2016, Jack Verdins commenced an action in the Federal Circuit Court. Mr Verdins was employed with IBM for 36 tears before receiving notice that a ‘restructure of the marketing and communications business was necessary and his position of senior portfolio marketing professional would no longer be required.’ Mr Verdins alleged that his age was a factor in the redundancy. Mr Verdins demanded $347,889 in compensation. The matter has since been settled for an undisclosed sum.

In September 2016, Rolf Stockburger commenced an action in the ACT Federal Court after his position, as a sales executive, was made redundant. Mr Stockburger alleged that his position was not redundant and that IBM Australia had dismissed him because of his age. Mr Stockburger sought reinstatement of his position, and the payment of compensation and penalties. The matter was settled for an undisclosed sum.

Bullying Allegations Against Australian Olympic Committee Employee
Two former employees of the Australian Olympic Committee have made allegations of workplace bullying against Mike Tancred, AOC Media and Communications Manager.

Ryan Wells, former AOC staffer, claims that Mr Tancred approached his desk and threatened to kill him in 2005. Mr Wells claims that he lodged a complaint about this incident, but was dismissed from his position 6 months later after receiving a negative review from Tancred.

Former Chief Executive Fiona de Jong has also lodged a workplace bullying complaint against Mr Tancred. Ms de Jong did not disclose any specifics of her complaint as it is subject to an internal investigation. However, Ms de Jong did broadly describe the nature of her complaint, noting: “ he called me, he threatened, intimidated, bullied and what I felt amounted to blackmailing me … and the threat was not only to me, but involved my family.” Although Ms de Jong lodged her complaint with the AOC four months ago, it has not been resolved.

Aboriginal Woman Sues BHP for Racial Abuse
Aboriginal woman, Mandy Cant, has commenced legal action against BHP Billiton, alleging that she was subject to racial abuse at BHP’s Eastern Ridge mine site. In July 2016, Ms Cant requested that people stop using foul language and making derogatory comments about Aboriginal people while she was in the office. Ms Cant alleges that after making this request she was subject to racial abuse. It is alleged that notes were written in the dust on the floor of a room used by Ms Cant, on Ms Cant’s forklift, and on her laptop screen which read: “n****”, “n**** b****” and “go home n****”. Ms Cant claims she has suffered from a psychological injury as a result of being subject to this abuse.

Ms Cant has lodged a writ in the Western Australian District Court claiming BHP breached its duty of care to prevent injury. Ms Cant has also taken her case to the Equal Opportunity Commission.