What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 25 January 2021 – 31 January 2021

No Evidence for Disability Discrimination Claim for Fired Employee

Daniel Whipps, the warehouse worker who was sacked for allegedly masturbating at work, has lost his discrimination challenge with Battery Store Australia. Whipps, who worked at the Battery Store warehouse in Townsville, was caught on company CCTV in 2018 with a mobile phone in his right hand and his shorts down to his thighs. While Whipps claimed he was merely scratching a rash, Battery Australia took swift action to terminate his employment. Mr Whipps then launched a discrimination claim in October 2018, arguing he should receive $4400 in damages for lost wages and $10,000 for hurt and embarrassment suffered. However, in a decision issued this month, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission found that Mr Whipps failed to prove a rash coinciding with the time of the incident. Commissioner Catherine Hartigan found that ‘there [was] no evidence, of probative value, that establishes that he was suffering from the rash on 2 and 3 October 2018 [when the images were captured].’ The Commission relied on two doctors who examined Mr Whipps when he commenced his employment with Battery Store in 2018, who both found no evidence Mr Whipps suffered a skin condition. The Commission also found that even if Mr Whipps was scratching a rash, his employer did not terminate him on this basis. In other words, Commissioner Hartigan concluded that Mr Whipps’ alleged condition was not sufficient to support a discrimination claim because an employee without a rash would have been treated in the same way. Mr Whipps has since criticised the decision, maintaining that the Commissioner failed to consider the evidence correctly. Mr Whipps has indicated his desire to appeal the decision.

Former Warner Music Group Executive Fired for Sexual Harassment

Warner Music Group Australia has fired Scott Maclachlan – the executive responsible for managing New Zealand pop singer Lorde – following revelations of sexual harassment. Mr Maclachlan managed Lorde during the release of her critically acclaimed debut album – Pure Heroine – before leaving after five-years to assume a role as a senior vice president at Warner’s Sydney office. Warner Music Group has previously investigated what it believed to be an isolated incident involving Maclachlan in 2018. However, the entertainment giant recently received a slew of other sexual harassment claims against the former executive, prompting the decision to terminate his contract. ‘Now that we’ve learned about these additional incidents, we’ve terminated Scott Maclachlan’s employment contract with immediate effect,’ Warner Music Group said. Following his termination, Maclachlan publicly accepted ‘the harmful impact of [his] past behaviour’ and has pledged to ‘try every day to repair the damage and prevent it happening again.’