What’s been happening in Australia in relation to workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying from 7 – 13 September 2015

Surgeons in Trouble
A report commissioned by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has found that almost half of surgeons and trainees have suffered discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment from senior surgeons. Of these 19% reported workplace harassment, 18% discrimination and 7% sexual harassment. Younger surgeons were more likely to complain of bullying than older surgeons. The investigation was prompted by the controversial comments made by Dr McMullin when she said female trainee doctors should just give into requests for sexual favours. The report recommends cultural change and sanctions against those responsible for discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment.

The Board of Neurosurgery has upheld bullying allegations against a senior neurosurgeon following a formal investigation. Dr Ibbett was trained by Dr Maroulis and said she was constantly bullied on the program. She was called lazy and stupid and made to feel that she wasn’t good enough. The Board accepted that Dr Ibbett was subjected to unreasonable and unjustified criticism, verbal abuse and undermining feedback. The investigation was also critical of Monash Health and its response to the allegations of bullying and in particular an earlier investigation that found that the allegations could not be substantiated.

In an Interesting Twist the Bully alleges bullying…
Ms Maroulis, a neurosurgeon accused of bullying, has lodged an unfair dismissal claim with FWA. She alleges she was bullied and denied a deputy director role because of her sex. She claims that she had taken on additional administrative work on the understanding she would receive a pay increase. However, she alleges she was later told that she would not be appointed to the role because she was a woman and “senior male colleagues would not accept her appointment.” Ms Maroulis was dismissed after findings that she had bullied trainees. She is seeking damages

A former security guard at the Nauru detention centre claims she was forced to work alongside a supervisor 5 months after she lodged a sexual harassment complaint. Ms Rose has accused Wilson Security of refusing to take the harassment claim seriously. She said that her experience working in the detention centre was a nightmare in a workplace culture that was “horrendous.” She further alleged that bullying and sexual harassment among staff was rife. Since she made her complaint, the perpetrator has been promoted.

More than one in 10 complaints about sexual harassment at work were made by men. In 5% of cases men complained about women and in 11% about men. Women were also accused of sexually harassing women in 5.7% of cases. Male-to-male complaints often include homosexual slurs and questioning men’s sexuality.

A popular bar in Melbourne will be forced to defend its actions after a law student who was refused entry to the venue is alleging discrimination. Mr Findley claims he was told that there were “too many guys” in his group before being denied entry to the club. Curtin House is the home to a number of bars. Findley claims that these bars have certain policies that ensure there are more women in the venue than men. Curtin House has since said that the group was denied entering the venue because they were intoxicated.

Lorna Jane took to Facebook to gain support from its followers as it defends itself against bullying and harassment claims levelled by a former employee. However, this has backfired and Lorna Jane has been labelled a bully. Ms Robinson filed a legal claim against the company, alleging Lorna Jane management tried to cover up the bullying she endured about her weight while working for the company. She alleges she was forced to work long hours with little support and senior staff members frequently commented on her weight and lifestyle choices and suggested she skip meals. Lorna Jane has denied all the allegations made by Ms Robinson.

While discrimination based on appearance (such as weight) is not unlawful in Australia (except Victoria) the behaviours alleged could constitute bullying…repeated inappropriate behaviours that lead to a risk of mental harm.