What’s Been Happening in Australia in Relation to Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying from 9 – 15 April 2018

Farting at a Work Colleague is not Bullying
The Victorian Supreme Court has dismissed a $1.8 million action that equated farting with bullying. David Hingst formerly worked as an administrator at Construction Engineering Australia in Melbourne. He alleged that his supervisor, Greg Short, would “lift his bum and fart” on or at him on a regular basis, causing him depression and anxiety. He claims that Mr Short would fart so much that Mr Hingst labelled him “Mr Stinky”. However, the judge held that this was not a case of workplace bullying because it did not have the characteristic “distress, humiliation or victimisation” expected. Rather, she labelled it “an offence…[with]…origins in cultural difference”, given that Mr Hingst was German.

Qld Local Government Employees Suing Employer for Not Managing their Complaints of Bullying
Two former staff members of Mt Isa City Council have claimed that it was negligent in its handling of their harassment complaints. They allege that former co-worker, Daniel Grimaldi, was “rude, demeaning, belittling, unprofessional, intimidating, [and] abusive”, for which the council should be vicariously liable. In addition, they claim it failed to provide for them a safe place of work because of Mr Grimaldi’s harassment. Ms Gildea claims she was “forced” to leave because of Mr Grimaldi’s abusive and intimidating behaviour, as well as obscene language. She says that despite having made two formal complaints to the deputy CEO, she was not advised of an investigation or even formally acknowledged. Both Ms Gildea and Ms Hartwig (the other victim) are suing for damages for the psychiatric injury they suffered.