What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 6 – 12 December 2021

MP Hails Action on Assaults

Deputy Liberal leader, Libby Mettam, has spoken out on the sexual harassment within the mining sector. She said she is happy that Bill Johnston, Mines Minister, has instructed his department to “do their job”. This comes after his office attempted to minimise rape allegations. Secret emails sent from Mr Johnston’s office and senior media advisors were discovered, exposing an attempt to downplay the rape culture within the mining sector. Ms Mettam said that “there is a gaping disconnect between the department’s awareness of the issues and what we have heard from the miners and individuals”. Mr Johnston has since said that the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety was working alongside mining companies to gauge whether charges could be made against the companies for not disclosing sexual assaults. A new $1.9 million has been given to the DMIRS to address the underreporting of sexual assault and harassment in the mining sector. The initiative is focused on mental health, workplace culture, drug and alcohol use and mine safety issues.

Are Companies Sack-Happy Over Vaccination Status?

This week, the Australian HR Institute released its November survey, having interviewed 760 HR professionals. The findings include that 6 in 10 employers are mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment. Likewise, 6 in 10 agree that vaccination status will influence hiring decisions. Almost a third of employers terminated contracts for unvaccinated staff, with 27% transitioning unvaccinated employees to remote-only roles. The topic of employment and vaccination status has sparked a conversation over discrimination. People continue to debate whether terminating employment of an unvaccinated employee amounts to discrimination.

Unvaccinated Nurse Assistant’s Unfair Dismissal Case Rejected

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has rejected an application for unfair dismissal. The claim was lodged by a nurse assistant who was dismissed from her job due to her being unvaccinated. The applicant worked at an aged care facility. As such, she was legally required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Her initial application to FWC was lodged a day after the 21-day limitation period had elapsed. The FWC ruled that there was no “exceptional circumstance” to permit an extension of time. The applicant claimed the delay in lodging her application was caused by her law firm creating a “representative error”. The FWC has clarified that a representative error may amount to an exceptional circumstance, but the applicant must be “blameless” – the applicant should not have contributed to the error. In this instance, the applicant had contributed to the delay. The FWC also looked at the merits of her case, determining that its chances of success were limited.

A Much-Needed Review Into The Toxic Australian Music Industry Is Finally Happening

A national Music Industry Review has been announced to look into sexual harm, harassment, and discrimination in all sectors of the music industry. The review will be led by Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner, who have conducted similar large-scale reviews. The report is due to be published in July of 2022. The review process will include creating focus groups, listening to music professionals, and data collection through surveys.

TechOne $5.2m Bullying Claim Set for Retrial

The High Court has dismissed an appeal for a $5.2 million bullying and unfair dismissal case. The claim was made against TechOne and founder Adrian Di Marco. The complainant has promised to fight this decision with a $25 million retrial. The TechOne legal battle began in 2018, when Behnam Roohizadegan claimed he was bullied and marginalised at the company from 2016. Mr Roohizadegan sought special leave to appeal to the High Court, due to its decision to overturn the $5.2 million damages payout that was initially awarded in 2020. The trial judge had determined that Di Marco was “deceptive and self-serving” and had sided with the bullies “rather than the bullied”. The trial judge also said that TechOne’s conduct was “boorish” and left Mr Roohizagedan “incapable of ever working again.”

Cops Threatened After Sex with Schoolgirl They Met On The Street

Two police officers in NSW are facing charges of misconduct after having sex with a teenage school student in a hotel room. One of the officers had picked her up while working. The officer would “use his position as a police officer to pick up women”. He had a pile of post-it notes with his number written on it, ready to hand out to women while on duty. The other officer charged had also approached women on 9 occasions over the last 12 months while working. The Crown prosecutor has said that the men abused their position as a police officer. The pair were initially charged with non-consensual sex of a minor. Those charges have since been dropped.