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

Dozens of Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Public Sector Employees

During the Budget Estimates hearing this week, Premier Mark McGowan has revealed the number of complaints of bullying and harassment received against public sector employees. Mr McGowan said 36 sexual harassment allegations had been made in the past 12 months. Of these allegations, 14 were substantiated in relation to six offenders. Two of the employees had resigned, while one employee was sacked. Three of the accused remained employed, and underwent training and counselling. There were also 18 allegations of bullying, none of which were substantiated.

Independent Brewers Association Adopts Code of Conduct

In response to recent discussion around sexual assault and gender discrimination, the Independent Brewers Association has committed to a new Code of Conduct. The Code sets out obligations for member businesses and employees, the IBA team and any volunteers working with IBA. It covers four key areas relating to compliance with the law, respect for individuals and groups, responsibilities at venues and events and responsible alcohol marketing. It also includes a pledge regarding professional behaviour and respect for human dignity. In addition to the Code, the IBA will be developing a tool kit of resources for their members to ensure policies and procedures adhere with the code.

Perth Modern Call on WorkSafe to Investigate Workplace Bullying

WorkSafe has launched an investigation into Perth Modern after claims of a toxic workplace environment, workplace bullying and inappropriate behaviour has come to light. The investigation will look at the prestigious schools “management of psychosocial hazards.” Many teachers have left the school in recent months with complaints to the Department of Education dating as far back as August 2020. Due to the complaints, the Department of Education decided to commission an external agency with experience in workplace culture to audit the school’s work environment. A series of sessions have been held with Perth Modern staff to share the results of the survey. The survey identified areas of strength and areas for improvement, and it will support the leadership of the school to strengthen their workplace culture. A week prior to the release of the results, a formal complaint was lodged with WorkSafe.

Kaur v That’s Amore Cheese [2011] FWC 5679

In July 2021, the employee told the Managing Director that she felt uncomfortable going to work as her colleague was bullying her. In response, the Managing Director said “don’t do any drama” and “don’t come back to work if you are not comfortable.” He advised her to make a bullying claim against her colleague if she wanted. The employee did not attend for two subsequent shifts, so the respondent employer sent an email noting her failure to notify the employer of her absences and that if the employee did not intend to return, she needed to provide a resignation letter. The email attached a warning letter about Ms Kaur’s attendance. Ms Kaur said she had not come into work because the employer had unfairly dismissed her. In response, the Managing Director emailed the applicant to let her know she had not been fired and was welcome at work. Ms Kaur did not attend her subsequent shift. The following day, the Managing Director phoned the applicant to ask if she was coming back, and she said no. The Managing Director requested that Ms Kaur send a resignation letter so that the employer could pay out her annual leave. The Commission found a reasonable person would not understand the Managing Director’s statements to be dismissal: at best, they were ambiguous, but it was clear that the conversation about Ms Kaur’s employment was not over. The Commission found that the applicant had ended the employment relationship by saying she was not coming back and therefore resigned. The evidence did not establish that Ms Kaur was forced to resign. Therefore, the unfair dismissal application was dismissed.