What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 3 August 2020 – 9 August 2020

Age Discrimination Alleged Against Deloitte

A Deloitte Australia partner is suing the professional services firm and its CEO Richard Deutsch after he was allegedly directed to leave the partnership following his 62nd birthday. In the age discrimination claim, Deloitte Australia partner Colin Brown, 64, claims the firm illegally forced him out of the lucrative partnership on the basis of his age. He also claims Deloitte Australia moved him onto a ‘consultancy agreement’, which saw his annual income cut from $750,000 to $400,000. Brown is claiming over $3 million in damages and is also seeking a declaration that Deloitte’s mandatory retirement policy was illegal and that they will no longer impose it. Andrew Jewell, a principal at employment law firm McDonald Murholme, said if this case is successful, it could prompt similar claims from partners at other ‘big four’ accounting firms over illegal age requirements.

Rape Allegation Against UWA law Student

A Post-Graduate Law Student at the University of Western Australia has been charged with rape and several counts of aggravated and indecent sexual assault. Mr Luigi Rayapen is set to appear in the Fremantle’s Magistrates Court this Monday for a remand hearing regarding his charges. Mr Rayapen, who was an active member and Vice President of the Blackstone Student Law Society – which represents over 1,000 law students – has since stood down from his position. Notably, the allegations come just weeks after the legal world was rocked by findings of sexual misconduct at Australia’s apex court. While a member of Mr Rayapen’s family labelled the allegations ‘false’, the UWA Law School was quick to reiterate its condemnation of sexual harassment in an email to students and staff. ‘We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of all our students and staff and to being part of the institutional and cultural change required to end sexual harassment and violence against women,’ the email read. ‘We also acknowledge the importance of due process and the presumption of innocence and note that this criminal matter is currently before the courts,’ the email continued. The University of Western Australia has declined to comment.

Report Identifies Systemic Government Based Religious Discrimination

A major international study released by Bar-Ilan University found that religious discrimination is on the rise. Jonathan Fox, a professor of religion and politics at Bar-Ilan and author of the study, singled out Australia as a ‘clear example’ of the recent rise of ‘socially-based’ discrimination against religious minorities. Based on data from 771 religious minorities across 183 countries between 1990 to 2014, Fox states that ‘Jews in particular have been the victims of literally hundreds of instances of vandalism, harassment and threats of violence reported each year.’ This finding echoes a warning issued by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry last November that anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in Australia. Fox’s data also distinguishes 35 types of ‘government-based’ religious discrimination. These include ‘restrictions on the construction of religious buildings, controls on religious literature and prohibitions on chaplaincy services in prisons.’ He found that in 162 countries, government-based religious discrimination was perpetrated against 574 of the minority groups over the 24-year timeline. Fox also noted that government discrimination increased globally by almost 25% over the course of the 24-year study. While the findings were comprehensive, Fox said it’s difficult to identify the underlying cause of these trends, as the problem is multi-faceted. Though whatever the cause, The Conversation argues that Fox’s study ‘helps explain why threats to religious freedom in Australia are very real.’ The study confirmed both the presence of anti-religious hostility as well as systemic government-based discrimination in Australia. Despite this, the Morrison Government’s Religious Freedom Bill remains sidelined as Coronavirus concerns persist.