What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 28 September 2020 – 4 October 2020

Employer Terminates Employment of Employee for Unrelated “Vile” Personal Messages

A male employee at logistics firm Invenco has been fired after bullying and harassment of a woman he met over the dating app, Tinder. Thomas McGuirk sent 26-year-old Ebonie Sanderson ‘vile’ audio messages after she declined to meet him for sex. McGuirk labelled Sanderson a ‘disgusting fat pig’ and ‘f**king ugly.’ Posting the audio to Instagram, Ms Sanderson wrote that this is what ‘happens when you say NO or call out a man for being disrespectful!!!’ ‘I’m entitled to change my mind and tell someone I’m not interested anymore because I feel uncomfortable and intimidated by ones aggressive and forceful nature,’ she continued. The post gained significant traction online, reaching the man’s employer, Invenco, in a matter of hours. The company’s CEO Dave Scott was quick to act, immediately issuing a statement saying Mr McGuirk was sacked. ‘I was shocked and disgusted to hear the disrespect and entitlement towards women in the recordings and messages attached to the Instagram post,’ Mr Scott wrote on Facebook Sunday night. ‘I strongly reject any behaviour of this kind, at any time, in any place, for any reason. There is no excuse that makes this OK — ever,’ Scott added. ‘As soon as I heard the recordings and saw the images, I instantly determined this as an act of serious misconduct,’ Scott said. ‘The awareness of this act rendered Thomas McGuirk as unsuitable for continuing employment with Invenco, and I terminated his employment effective immediately at 8.53am on Saturday morning,’ he concluded.

Sporting Organisations Commit to National Framework for Gender Diverse Inclusion in Sport

Eight Australian sporting organisations have committed to a new national framework that aims to support and implement trans and gender diverse inclusion in sport. The organisations include some of Australia’s biggest names in sport, such as Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Australia Football League, Tennis Australia, and Rugby Australia. The framework follows international research which shows that trans and gender diverse people are significantly less likely to participate in sport for fear of discrimination. The new framework was spearheaded and supported by ACON, a New South Wales based health promotion organisation. In addition to the eight organisations, a further 13 national sporting organisations have committed to developing trans and gender diverse inclusion frameworks within their sports. This includes Athletics Australian, Bowls Australia, Diving Australia, Golf Australia Gymnastics Australia, Softball Australia, Squash Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia.

Senator Chandler’s Remarks ‘Common Sense’

Australia’s Attorney General Christian Porter has said that Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler’s controversial remarks about trans rights aren’t ‘particularly remarkable.’ Liberal senator Claire Chandler has been called before the Anti-Discrimination Commission for saying that women’s toilets should be for people of the female sex only. Asked on Sky News, the Attorney-General said that ‘[t]he central problem here is that the relevant legislation in Tasmania is so broad in what it allows someone to complain about, in terms of what another person has said as a public statement or observation, that it is susceptible to complaint on such an unimaginable broad scale that it needs reform.’ He continued that ‘the Tasmanian government basically has an Equal Opportunities Act that has a broader scope for complaint than any act anywhere else in Australia.’ While Mr Porter indicated that the introduction of legislation to give biological women exclusive rights to bathrooms and changerooms was not under consideration ‘at this stage’ for the Government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made similar remarks that Senator Chandler’s comments are ‘common sense.’

How to Manage Toxic Workplace Behaviours

Dr Jenny Brockis, a medical practitioner and author of the book ‘Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life,’ has said the first step to managing a toxic employee is to make an effort to listen and understand what others are saying about the person and their behaviour. ‘Leaders cannot dismiss [claims] because otherwise you are going to be losing all the good employees who will refuse to hang around,’ said Dr Brockis. Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero, added that employers must take a proactive approach. ‘The best way to identify toxic workplace behaviour is by checking in with your team regularly, as well as keeping a close eye on cliques and employees who are being excluded from social groups,’ said Hattingh. ‘Employee sentiment can be a key indicator of bad behaviour worth investigating, so pull culture influencers aside to check in on how they’re feeling, and gather information on any speculation that might be circulating around the office,’ he added.

Former Manager of TechnologyOne Awarded $5.2m Bullying Claim

A former employee of TechnologyOne has won a long-running unfair dismissal and bullying dispute against the software company. TechnologyOne’s former regional manager for Victoria, Behnam Roohizadegan, filed a $14.8 million action against the company, alleging he was bullied, marginalised and undermined by at least two senior executives. Roohizadegan claimed he was an ‘outstanding performer’ during his 10 years with the company but suffered from personal issues which culminated in the bullying incidents. Despite TechnologyOne denying the allegations, the Federal Court ordered the company pay Roohizadegan $5.2 million in damages. In a statement to shareholders following the judgment, TechnologyOne said it was ‘disappointed’ and ‘surprised’ by the decision. The company said it plans to appeal ‘as soon as practicable’, adding that it has ‘always acted with integrity’ towards its staff.

Allegation that Ola Driver Discriminated Against Gay Couple

A gay couple has accused an Ola driver of discrimination and homophobia after the rideshare employee cancelled a trip mid-drive. Anthony Price and his partner were kicked out of the car last week after touching each other on the knee. In a video Price shared to social media, the driver can be heard saying ‘I said stop this is my rule’ and ‘I’ll drop you off here … I can’t take you.’ The trio exchange heated words in a car park before Price and his partner removed themselves from the vehicle. The internet has been quick to condemn the driver’s behaviour and he has since been banned from working for Ola, Uber and Didi ride-sharing services. ‘Ola will not tolerate any type of discrimination on the platform,’ an Ola spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au.

High Court Chief Justice Named Most Culturally Powerful Person for 2020

The Australian Financial Review has named Susan Kiefel, the first female Chief Justice of the High Court, Australia’s most culturally powerful person for 2020. Justice Kiefel was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court in January 2017 and was recognised this year for her investigation into former High Court Justice Dyson Heydon’s sexual harassment of six former female associates.

Report Shows Overwhelming Public Support for Extending Religious Discrimination Laws

A parliamentary report has revealed overwhelming public support for extending religious anti-discrimination laws in New South Wales. The survey of over 19,000 people assessed the public’s views on the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020. The private member’s bill introduced by Mark Latham aims to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 to make discrimination on the ground of a person’s religious beliefs or activities unlawful. Mr Latham said that the public ‘very clearly … want[s] this bill, they see the need for these protections, and they are long overdue.’ Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said the strong, positive response to the bill demonstrates how important religious freedom is. ‘People of faith have waited far too long to receive the same protections against discrimination that others enjoy,’ the archbishop said.

Previous VC Rathjen Spent $305,000 Work Related Expenses

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has found that disgraced former University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen spent almost $305,000 on travel and related expenses in just over two years in the role, documents reveal. The documents, which the ABC obtained through FOI, show Professor Rathjen travelled extensively during his tenure. He took 10 trips abroad during his tenure, including to the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Canada, the United States and four trips to the United Kingdom. This comes after the South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) found Professor Rathjen had committed ‘serious misconduct’ by sexually harassing two women.

Racial Vilification Claim

A former employee of Geelong’s Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative is taking the organisation to court, claiming racial vilification, foul language and bullying.

Third Bullying Complaint Against Cleanaway CEO

A third ‘bullying’ complaint has been revealed against Cleanaway Waste Management Chief Executive Vik Bansal. The complaint, made in August last year, is the third formal complaint of bullying against the Cleanaway board members to been revealed this month. The complaint involved three identical letters sent to Cleanaway Chairman Mark Chellew concerning the ‘untenable corporate bullying directly from CEO’ Vik Bansal.