What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 28 October 2019 – 3 November 2019

New Laws in Victoria to Imprison Negligent Employers for Employment Related Suicide
New workplace manslaughter laws being introduced in Victoria could see negligent bosses face up to 20 years imprisonment and $16 million in fines for an employee who commits suicide. The proposed law is set to cover deaths caused by mental injuries sustained during employmentcover deaths caused by mental injuries sustained during employmentcover deaths caused by mental injuries sustained during employment – this includes trauma from bullying or other forms of verbal and emotional abuse. The new legislation follows in the footsteps of Victoria’s anti-bullying legislation, colloquially known as ‘Brodie’s Law’, which was introduced in the Victorian parliament in 2011 following the death of waitress Brodie Panlock, who committed suicide after bouts of ongoing harassment at work. However, the Victorian Government’s latest law, in seeking to expand on this, will apply to employers in public and private companies. Given the serious nature of the consequences for an employer the criminal burden of proof for employers to be charged under the new laws would apply.

Recent Survey by AHRC Shows Retail and Fast Food Employees at Significant Risk of Harm by Customers
A recent report conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission report conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission report conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) found that young employees in the retail and fast food industries are more likely to be sexually harassed than employees in other sectorsmore likely to be sexually harassed than employees in other sectorsmore likely to be sexually harassed than employees in other sectors. The report, which surveyed more than 3,000 members of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) union, showed that female retail workers under 30 years old were most likely to be harassed, comprising 46 per cent of all victims. Of everyone in that age bracket who reported being sexually harassed, the survey revealed that incidents happened, on average, seven times in the past year. These figures included incidents where ‘customers threatened to rape’ employees and stalked employees online after taking note of their name badge. Sex discrimination commissioner at the AHRC, Kate Jenkins, said. ‘It really calls out retail and fast food outlets to start looking at the behaviour of customers and [to] make sure the young workers know that they can speak up,’ she added. SDA national assistant secretary Julia Fox said the union wanted to see trespass laws reformed so businesses could ban problem customers. The SDA also indicated that it would like to see more education and training programs for employees. Ms Fox said that in the absence of further training, businesses were vulnerable to workplace injury claims and reputational damage. ‘We have dropped the ball and it’s time employers really focused on this issue,’ she concluded.