What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 7 February 2021 – 14 February 2021

Deloitte Expects Partners Will Retire at 62

According to documents filed in the Federal Courts as part of an age discrimination case, Deloitte has an expectation that partners with retire at 62 years of age. The expectation is specified by the firm not to mean that partners are obliged to do so, but employment lawyers claim this still deviates from age discrimination laws. The concession came in a defence by the firm and chief executive Richard Deutsch to the case in which Colin Brown – an audit partner – claims the firm illegally forced him out and is seeking over $3 million in damages. The defence also stated that that partners were aware of the policy. Mr Brown alleged the firm’s conduct breaches both discrimination and consumer protection laws, demanding the firm and Mr Deutsch admit they have discriminated based on age and commit to removing the retirement age “expectation”. Experts have stated that although not a requirement, Deloitte’s policy still treats people differently based on their age.

Bunbury Health Campus to Reform After Accusations of Negligence and Bullying

The major hospital in regional Western Australia claims measures to improve staff behaviour have been taken after coming under scrutiny for its toxic workplace culture. Issues of staff feeling they were bullied were exposed by an internal report conducted by Bunbury Health Campus. The report also found that there was a lack of transparency in reporting these problems and a reluctance to implement recommendations. These workplace issues have largely been attributed to increases of demand on the hospital and reflect a service under pressure. Since the report, there has allegedly been an overhaul of senior management and a program of change to alleviate the strain on the hospital. These changes have supposedly made a significant improvement and, by consequence, safe and quality service is guaranteed.

Sacked Uni Professor Case to go to the High Court

Dr Peter Ridd, former professor of James Cook University, was fired over his comments about his colleague’s climate change findings. Notably, Dr Ridd disrespectfully claimed that the findings should not be trusted as they were too “emotionally involved”, thereby breaching the university’s code of conduct. His case has been granted special leave to be heard by the High Court after it was contended that he should have been protected from being sacked by his enterprise agreement, which exempted Dr Ridd from the code’s requirement for respectful and courteous conduct towards colleagues. This is because, as was argued by Dr Ridd’s legal representation, his comments did not “harass, bully, vilify or intimidate” his colleagues. The purpose of the clause is to facilitate exchange of ideas and to protect academic freedom – a purpose that was allegedly ignored when Dr Ridd was dismissed.