What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 6 January 2020 – 12 January 2020

Alleged Unfair Dismissal Related to Mental Health Disclosure
Josephine Willis, has launched unfair dismissal proceedings against global technology company, Cyara Solutions, alleging a boy’s club culture and workplace toxicity. Willis was headhunted by the company – which tests for customer satisfaction – in 2016 and was employed as its regional general manager in both Australia and New Zealand. Willis, labelled the company a ‘toxic boys’ club’. ‘Bullying and inappropriate behaviour was ignored and accepted,’ Willis said. ‘They admired ‘cowboy’ salespeople – and the means justified the end as long as you got away with it.’ Mrs Willis said she began to experience panic attacks as a result of work pressures. The attacks led to a diagnosis of chronic anxiety disorder as she struggled to meet commission targets.
After listening to a guest speaker at the company’s global conference in March 2018, Willis felt empowered to open up about her condition to her superiors. ‘I felt courageous in saying, “Hey, this is my diagnosis”.’ Despite fear of reprisal, Willis told her boss she was suffering anxiety and requested time off. ‘I held a key leadership position so I feared my condition would become a company liability, that I would be seen as damaged goods,’ she said. ‘My fears became a reality.’ ‘The way they treated me compounded my existing condition,’ she said. ‘I felt worthless and terribly betrayed.’ At the time she was told to wait until the new year so a replacement could be arranged. Instead, Willis alleges she was sacked without warning in August 2018. Willis said one of her bosses broke the news over the phone, saying: ‘Today’s your liberation day. You no longer need to work.’ The Statement of Claim detailed that after her termination, Willis’ requests for an explanation and documentation were ignored. Cyara Solutions has since maintained that Mrs Willis resigned and never asked for time off. Willis is suing for both lost wages and damages for hurt, humiliation and distress.

Staff Fired at Ipswich Council Following Internal Whistleblower Hotline
Staff at Queensland’s Ipswich council have been fired after a raft of complaints were received by an internal whistleblower hotline. The council has been under administration since August 2018 when all elected councillors were sacked following a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) probe. The CCC investigations resulted in almost 90 criminal charges against 15 people. This included former mayors Andrew Antoniolli and Paul Pisasale. The CCC investigations found the council’s culture was ‘rotten to the point where corruption was no longer recognised.’ Ipswich council’s Greg Chemello told the ABC more staff have been fired since then, after 118 complaints were received by the internal hotline. ‘Misuse of authority, bullying, fraud and sexual misconduct’ were among some of the allegations received by the hotline. Mr Chemello is set to release a 60-page report on Friday, detailing the hotline complaints and outlining changes that have been implemented since the August 2018 dismissals. ‘I was certainly under no illusions that everything was cleaned up as a result of some councillors no longer being there, there were systemic issues and this was part of bringing it out in the open and dealing with it,’ Chemello said. ‘We needed to offer staff a way that they could air the organisation’s dirty laundry, so to speak, within a safe, fair and responsible environment,’ he added.