What’s been happening in Australia in relation to workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying from 26 October – 1 November 2015

Breastfeeding in Cafe
A small business has been forced to apologise on its Facebook page after it was accused of discriminating against a breastfeeding woman. The customer was asked if she would like a cloth or would prefer to breastfeed in a private part of the café. In the Facebook post apologising to the woman the owner said she was sorry about the way the situation was handled, however, she wanted to make it clear that the woman was never asked to leave.

Discrimination is when one person is treated less favourably than another in the same or similar circumstance because of a protected category, such as breastfeeding. In this instance offering (as an option but not mandatory) an alternative space to breast feed is unlikely to be discrimination.

Genuine Redundancy vs Unfair Dismissal of Toll Employee
A Toll employee applied for an unfair dismissal remedy after he was made redundant. The Fair Work Commission held that this was a case of genuine redundancy and that the company had no other adequate positions. The employee was employed, as a fly in fly out worker and operational requirements had led to his position no longer being required. He suggested there were opportunities for him to be redeployed to other areas within Toll but Toll had assessed that there were not other positions for him and the Commission accepted this was a genuine redundancy.

Australia Zoo-Toxic Bullying Environment?
Allegations have surfaced this week that the Australia Zoo has a toxic work environment where staff suffer from bullying, intimidation and incompetence. Australia Zoo has denied all allegations of mistreatment and said they have zero tolerance to bullying.

RSL Club Outrage over Hijab
A woman alleges she was told she would not be allowed back in to a local RSL wearing a hijab is lodging an anti-discrimination complaint. The woman said she was approached by staff and was informed that the garment was counter to the venue’s dress code, and although she would be allowed to stay for the evening she would not be able to return in the religious dress. The Club’s version is different and they said at first the staff member didn’t realise the head gear was religious and once they did they then just had a friendly chat to the woman but the club is clear that they accept people with headgear related to their religion.

Hard to say which version is the real one but either way what is even more distressing is that when someone else posted a criticism about RSL on a facebook page in relation to this incident, it evoked a stream of racist, prejudiced, stereotypical comments…come on Australia we are better than this.