What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 27 March – 2 April 2017?

Sexual Harassment Claim Against Nandos
A 21-year-old female has commenced a sexual harassment claim against former colleagues and owners of two Nando’s franchises. In 2014-2015, the claimant worked at Nando’s Chermside and Nando’s Strathpine. During this period of time, the claimant alleges that her colleagues sexually harassed her, by pressing their genitals up against her, “pinch[ing] her on the bottom and touch[ing] her breasts.” It is alleged that the claimant reported these incidents to her manager who informed her that he would “deal with it.” The claimant alleges that she continued to be subjected to sexual harassment after reporting the issue to her manager.

The sexual harassment claim has been brought against five parties: two of the claimant’s former colleagues (Ram Singh and Harwinder Singh Gohal), the former franchise owners of Nando’s Chermside and Nando’s Strathpine (Sanjay Kumar and Sirichand Jhanbia) and the company operated by Sanjay Kumar and Sirichand Jhanbia. Mr Jhanbia has denied all allegations.

Unlawful Dismissal Alleged Against Brickworks
Mike Finney has commenced legal action against his former employer, Brickworks, alleging that his dismissal was unlawful. Mr Finney claims that his employment was terminated to prevent him from lodging a complaint about Lindsay Partridge, the chief executive of Brickworks. Mr Finney claims that he told a colleague that he intended to make a complaint to the Chairman of the Board about Mr Partridge. In particular, Mr Finney intended to tell the Chairman that Mr Partridge “treated managerial staff poorly, did not consult appropriately about changes he determined to make [and] did not listen to others in management.” That afternoon, before Mr Finney had the chance to make a complaint, he was informed that his employment had been terminated. Mr Finney has made an adverse action claim and is seeking compensation for lost remuneration, lost reputation and the lost value of his 30,637 shares.

BHP had Valid Reason for Dismissing Manager Who Did Not Role Model the Code of Conduct and Asked Staff to Breach the Code of Conduct
Paul Desmond, a Production Shift Supervisor, made an application for an unfair dismissal remedy (in the case of Desmond v BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Ltd [2017] FWC 1585) in respect of the termination of his employment by BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Ltd. Mr Desmond was dismissed following an investigative process, after he asked two employees to complete welding on his personal property. BHP argued that this conduct was in breach of BHP Billiton’s Code of Conduct (Code), which prohibits employees from using BHP assets for personal gain. Further, BHP submitted that Mr Desmond had breached a provision of the Code relating to the expectations of supervisors and managers. This provision states that supervisors “must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the people for whom they are responsible are aware of and uphold the behaviours outlined in the code and charter values, which includes consistently demonstrating exemplary behaviour.” BHP submitted that Mr Dawson had failed to demonstrate exemplary behaviour and further, had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that his subordinates upheld the behaviours outlined in the Code.

Commissioner Williams found that Mr Desmond’s conduct breached the BHP Code and provided BHP with a valid reason to terminate his employment. Commissioner Williams held that Mr Desmond’s dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable and dismissed the application.