What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 28 May – 3 June 2018

Racial Discrimination of Chinese Descent Couple
A NSW hotelier has been fined for underpaying two of his former workers in a landmark workplace racial discrimination case. As the former owner of the Scamander Beach Resort Hotel in Tasmania, Chang Yen Chang sponsored and employed a husband and wife couple from Malaysia through skilled chefs’ visas. However, in addition to having underpaid them by more than $28,000, he was found to have made them work extra hours and not to have actually recorded the number of hours they worked. Mr Chang referred to the Chinese-descent couple as “family” in an effort to capitalise on a Chinese culture of assisting one’s family, and pressuring them into working harder. Indeed, the court found that Mr Chang believed “they were on the same wavelength” because they shared the same heritage. Mr Chang’s different treatment of the couple by reason of their race is an example of migrant worker exploitation in Australia. Despite this, Mr Chang’s is the first case that the Fair Work Ombudsman has prosecuted through the Fair Work Act’s racial discrimination provisions. While Mr Chang was fined $35,099, his company, Yenida, was fined $176,005.

Vic. Police Commander Due to Return to Work Post Serious Bullying Allegations
Victorian Police Commander Dean Stevenson is set to resume his post after having been investigated over serious bullying allegations. In 2017, Mr Stevenson was forced to take paid leave when five senior officers complained of the toxic work environment he created. They alleged that staff members were berated regularly but were fearful to make official complaints given the potential repercussions for their future career prospects. Mr Stevenson was separately investigated in relation to inappropriate images he had stored on a work phone. The police union has criticised the internal investigation into Mr Stevenson for not taking the bullying complaints seriously. While Victoria Police claim to be “committed to ensuring [its employees’] safety and wellbeing”, the Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp accepted that the commander’s return might distress the complainants. On hearing of his impending return, one officer made an official complaint, which is likely to prompt an investigation by WorkSafe Victoria. Mr Stevenson was previously implicated in another workplace dispute when he allegedly bullied a subordinate officer in 2011. However, an independent investigation subsequently cleared him.