What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 2 – 8 April 2018

Qantas Flight Attendant Claims Sexual Harassment Rampant
A former Qantas flight attendant has alleged that her on-board flight manager sexually harassed her. Hannah Rowlands, who has previously appeared in numerous television ads for the airline, claims the manager began to blow on her neck during a flight in 2015. Although she told him not to touch her, he began “slapping [her] on the backside” the following week. Ms Rowlands made a formal complaint and requested that she be rostered on different shifts to the perpetrator. Qantas continued to put the two together at least seven more times, despite having assured her they would not. As a result, she felt compelled to avoid going into work. Qantas claims to “take harassment in the workplace very seriously”. However, Ms Rowlands says that at the time, they told her she was being “very difficult”. She has since quit but says that sexual harassment is in fact rampant in the industry.

Victorian Barristers Have Best Gender Diversity in Australia
Results of the ‘State of the Victorian Bar’ – the largest survey ever conducted by the Victorian Bar – have shown improvements in gender equality and diversity. Women now comprise 29% of the state’s barristers, in contrast to 5.5% in 1980. President of the Victorian Bar, Dr Matt Collins QC, believes the results are evidence that “[their] gender diversity is now easily the best in Australia”. He suggested a number of reasons to explain the improvements. In addition to a well established equality and diversity committee of 20 years, and the high representation of women on the bar council (57%), the Victorian Bar is unique for having a form of parental leave. Although barristers work for themselves, the bar has subsidised chambers for a period of up to 6 months parental leave. In addition, there are lower barriers to enter the market given there is no system of key-money in Victoria.

Sweeney Estate Agents Accused of Sexual Harassment
A director of Sweeney Estate Agents has accused the real estate franchise of maintaining a sexually inappropriate culture. In a claim lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Summer Salvato alleged that the agent’s male directors repeatedly harassed her. In particular, she claims that director Darren Dean made inappropriate comments about her breasts, sent her pornography and suggested that the two have sex. While he denies the first of the allegations, Ms Salvato maintains that the conduct has caused her anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Additionally, she has alleged that other male directors said sexually suggestive things to the female employees, and referred to some by their body parts instead of first names. Ms Salvato hopes that this action will provide a way to have her voice heard.

Workplace sexual harassment is unlawful and can result in employers being responsible for the actions of their employees. A national survey found that 25% of people surveyed did not have a clear understanding of what constituted sexual harassment. At EEO Specialists we have created engaging, interactive training to educate all employees about what sexual harassment is. Click hear to watch a brief video on our latest training related to sexual harassment. To find out more contact us here.