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

Former GM Suing Perdis Cosmetics Owner for Breach of Contract and Adverse Action Related to Bullying
Napoleon Perdis’ former general manager, Gioanni Rosiello, is suing for breach of contract and adverse action in relation to bullying claims. Giovanni alleges that he was made to do work extending beyond the scope of his job description, which amounted to bullying. Mr Rosiello’s contractual duties as the general manager included supervising human resources and legal matters, IT, and overseeing Perdis Cosmetics stores and properties. However, he says Mr Perdis expected he perform personal errands such as organising his father’s funeral and boosting his Instagram followers. He also claims that he was forced to return to work from a 2014 holiday to rectify an error Mr Perdis had made, and to cancel a holiday to Italy he had planned in 2017. Moreover, Mr Rosiello says that after having complained about outstanding payments owed under his contract, he was victimised, resulting in his suffering from psychological distress and anxiety. This was further worsened when Mr Perdis revoked some of Mr Rosiello’s key duties without first consulting him.

Non-Disclosure of Sexual Relationship and Consequent Favourable Treatment Ground for Dismissal
A case of unfair dismissal has resulted from an illicit affair between a deputy principal and female PE teacher. On discovering of the relationship, the husband of Ms R filed a complaint on her behalf, alleging that Mr E sexually harassed her. Notwithstanding the fact that that there was found not to be any basis for such a claim, both Mr E and Ms R were dismissed. This prompted Mr E to file for unfair dismissal. The school argued that he was fired for not disclosing his sexual relationship with Ms R, during which he promoted her in his role on a selection panel. The school also claimed that as a result of his prejudiced position, he failed to address other staff members’ complaints against Ms R, namely that she had taken naked pictures of herself on the campus during school hours and sent them to her colleagues. In response, Mr E said that any sexual relationship did not commence until after he had served on the judging panel. The NSW Industrial Relations Commissioner John Murphy agreed with the school. He found that Mr E had deliberately chosen not to disclose his relationship when on the panel; that while on the panel he had acted to Ms R’s advantage; and that he had not taken action to deal with complaints against her. Commissioner Murphy concluded that Mr E’s conduct was “sufficiently serious to justify the termination of his employment”.

Impact of Sexual Harassment Allegations Related to Geoffrey Rush
Amidst allegations of sexual harassment, Geoffrey Rush has removed himself from the Melbourne Theatre Company’s stage production of Twelfth Night. Mr Rush is currently in the midst of a suit against the Daily Telegraph. He alleges that the newspaper defamed him by accusing him of behaving inappropriately with fellow actor, Eryn Norvill, in a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear. He denies these allegations. Nicholas Pullen, who is representing Mr Rush, stated that he “suffers lack of sleep and anxiety requiring medication”, believing his place in the acting industry to be “irreparably damaged”

Workplace Breastfeeding Information
Brittany Lauga, the MP for Keppel, has released resources to raise awareness of breastfeeding women’s rights in the workplace. Her resources are designed as a “practical tool for women to assert their right to breastfeed”. The Commonwealth and all state and territory authorities have laws in place protecting mothers from discrimination and harassment on the basis that they may be breastfeeding. Nevertheless, Ms Lauga is seeking to “encourage women returning to work to continue on their breastfeeding journey by making it as easy as possible to transition back into the workplace”.