What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 29 February – 6 March 2016

Employee Suing ANZ for Dismissal Related to Sexually Inappropriate Conduct
Two former ANZ traders have sued the ANZ bank before the Federal Court of Australia, for losses allegedly sustained by them as a result of their employment having been terminated by the bank. Mr O’Connor sued for damages suffered by him as the result of the termination of his employment on the grounds of inappropriate and sexually explicit communications, as well as for allegedly spending $37,000 on the company credit card for non-work related expenses. He has since dropped his claim.

Mr Alexiou’s employment was terminated following findings by the bank of inappropriate conduct including lewd and explicit communications about sex and drugs, over the internal chat terminal used by employees. He has continued with his claim. Mr Alexiou alleges that his dismissal was unlawful, unfair or in breach of contract because the conduct for which he was allegedly dismissed was conduct of a type which was in fact encouraged or condoned, directly or indirectly by ANZ.

Media is Hostile Environment for Women
The ‘Mates over Merit”: The Women in Media Report has revealed that almost half the women working in Australian media have experienced intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace. Further, more than 40% said they had been harassed, bullied or trolled on social media while engaging with audiences.

Gender Inequity Again…when will it end?
Curtin University researches and the Workplace Gender Equality agency have found that the average top-tier female manager earns $100,000 less a year than her male counterpart, almost 29% less. Professor Rebecca Cassells said that the large and persistent pay gaps at management level suggested “preferential recruitment and wage treatment of men over women”.

Positive Drug Test Constituted Valid Ground for Dismissal
Mr Hafer was dismissed from his employment after he returned a positive test result for drugs, in breach of his employer (Ensign’s) “zero tolerance” drug and alcohol policy, which formed part of the terms and conditions of his employment. Mr Hafer alleged that this constituted unfair dismissal.

Mr Hafer was selected for a random drug and alcohol test – a breath and urine sample (Santos Sample). The urine sample produced a positive result for Methamphetamine, THC and Amphetamine. Mr Hafer then undertook a secondary drug test which produced a negative result (Ensign Sample). This sample was re-tested and found not to contain Amphetamine type substances or Cannabinoids. The report noted that the Creatinine level of less than 1.8mmol/L in the sample may indicate a diluted sample, and recommended that a repeat sample should be requested. This did not occur. The Santos Sample was re-tested and found to contain Methamphetamine, Amphetamines, Cannaboids and Creatinine.

The Commission found that Ensign Sample was unreliable. Consequently the FWC held that on the balance of probabilities, at the time Mr Hafer arrived at the Santos site Mr Hafer had Amphetamines, Methamphetamine and Cannabinoids, in his system in breach of the terms and conditions of his employment. This constituted a valid reason for dismissal.