What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 27 June – 3 July 2022

All-Time High Pay-Out Ordered for Bullied Worker and Adverse Action Claim

In the recent Federal Court decision of Leggett v Hawkesbury Race Club, the Court issued its biggest compensation order related to bullying and adverse action. An employee who had worked for the Club for 25 years was deemed to have developed “a very serious psychiatric illness that may never be cured” as a result of bullying from the CEO of the employing company. The bullying behaviour occurred from May- October 2016 with the arrival of the new CEO and involved behaviours such as, “overbearing micromanagement” requiring her to provide detailed information about her expenses and her actions, at short notice, restricting her ability to do her job and withholding commissions owed to her. The employee complained to two of the Director’s in July and then again in August 2016 and then in October to the CEO about his behaviour to her and asked him to refer the matter to the board and the CEO responded by advising her to attend his office the following day in relation to her work performance. The CEO’s behaviours were deemed to constitute bullying and his treatment of her when she made a complaint constituted adverse action. The club, through its directors and CEO breached its duty of care and obligation to provide a safe system of work, including to take steps to prevent and to address workplace bullying and that there was a reasonably foreseeable risk that she would suffer a psychiatric injury. There were multiple compensation awards made to the employee, namely $1.95m related to breaches under the FWA, $300,00 legal cost and $561 513 paid as worker’s compensation.

‘Every Member of The Profession Has a Role to Play’: Legal Bodies Welcome IBA Report

On 27 June the International Bar Association (IBA) published two reports related to sexual harassment and discrimination in the legal profession. The reports are an attempt to address these issues on a global level. The reports included survey answers from lawyers in the Australasia and Pacific region. The report is significant for Australian regulators as sexual harassment has been high within the national industry. The results of the IBA survey reflect those of surveys conducted earlier by the Law Society and Law Council of Australia.

Report Helps Break Down Barriers for Women On Work Sites

The Queensland Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development released a media statement this week on a report about women on worksites. The Minister accepted all the 12 recommendations from this report in the recent statement. The report was created by the Ombudsman for the state’s apprentices and trainees. The Queensland Government is taking steps to incentivise women to take on apprenticeships and work in the trade industry. The Minister stated, “Gender equity continues to be a priority for the Palaszczuk Government and that includes women training in traditionally male-dominated industries – this Report outlines ways we can achieve real change.” All 12 recommendations relate to improving the experience of women working in the trade industry.