What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 20 – 26 November 2017

Indigenous Australians Most Discriminated in the Workplace
According to the Diversity Council Australia’s Inclusion@Work Index, 38% of indigenous Australians were either harassed or discriminated at work in the past year. This figure makes the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander workers the most discriminated minority in the workplace. The Council’s CEO, Lisa Annese, said that the “concept of self-determination is the most critical concept for a people who have been voiceless for so long”. Following indigenous Australians, workers with disabilities were the next most disadvantaged, at 34%. The survey did find that programs encouraging inclusive teams were more likely to be both effective and to innovate. While the majority of those surveyed were in favour of such programs, Ms Annese noted that, “people who don’t belong to a particular minority or diversity group, are less supportive of inclusion programs”.

Coles Baker Not Unfairly Dismissed
The Fair Work Commission has found in favour of Coles by holding their dismissal of a baker was not unfair (in the case of Jay Higgins v Coles Supermarkets [2017] FWC 6137). While discussing sick leave with his line manager, baker Jay Higgins sent a picture of his injured hand, having substituted the thumb with a penis. He sent another picture of a penis in a bike chain. The manager then complained, leading to Mr Higgins’ dismissal. He argued the images were not “unwanted” because he and the manager were friends, and that such topics of discussion were the “norm” among the baking staff. The manager denied these claims. Ultimately, the Commissioner found they did have a friendly relationship. As such, he held that there was no sexual harassment, because it was “consensual, welcome or reciprocated”. Despite this, he concluded that Mr Higgins had not acted consistently with the need to treat others with dignity. That, together with the seriousness of his behaviour and his lack of remorse, warranted the dismissal.