What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 25 June – 1 July 2018

CEO Posted Negative Comments About Staff on LinkedIn
A Queensland CEO has posted to LinkedIn describing the toxic workplace culture her colleagues perpetuated. Vicki Batten is the head of FSG Australia, a community organisation concerned with disability, mental health and aged care, which recently announced that it would enter voluntary administration. Amidst this backdrop, Ms Batten labelled her co-workers “destructive, distracting and draining”, saying they comprised a “catty gossip”, “relentless bully” and “slovenly slacker”. However, some of those who commented on the post claiming to be said former employees retaliated, with one saying it was they who, “ended up with severe anxiety and PTSD due to [FSG] management staff”.

Allegations of Bullying at Purplebricks
Purplebricks has strongly rejected the notion that it bullies its Local Property Expert representatives in Australia. Current and former agents allege to have been, “bullied, threatened and undermined at the company during the course of their employment”. Indeed, former Newcastle agent, Steven Bashford, claims that anyone who experienced success was “chopped back”. He also says that that the head office would call his vendors to “draw out… complaints”. In response, Purplebricks said, “We do not accept that these allegations reflect the [corporate] culture… and they are not representative of the experiences of our employees”.

Venture Capitalists Create Code of Conduct
A band of Australian venture capitalists has formulated a model Code of Conduct for the local start-up community. Created from the collaborative efforts of Startmate, Rampersand, AirTree Ventures, Blue Sky Venture Capital and Square Peg Capital, and headed by Blackbird Ventures’ partner Samantha Wong, the Code is a template that companies may adopt. It includes rules regarding antisocial behaviours like discrimination and sexual harassment, and incorporates options for companies to customise and amend as they see fit. In order to achieve what AirTree considers the mission of all start-ups – that of growing the local technology community into a creative space – it said that the, “participation and inclusion of people of all backgrounds” was necessary. It added that it, “think[s] that start-ups are hard enough as it is… Harassment or bullying makes this much, much worse – it can literally destroy lives”.

The Code does not provide all of the necessary legal frameworks for workplace behaviours as outlined in various equal opportunity acts and occupational safety legislation, however it offers a very comprehensive list of types of behaviours that could constitute sexual harassment. For a legally accurate, user friendly policy template in relation to workplace harassment, discrimination and bullying contact Franca at EEO Specialists on (08) 6102 4411.