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Christmas party groper wins unfair dismissal case

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HC Online | 05 May 2014, 10:59 AM Agree 0
An employee who was fired for touching five women’s breasts at his work Christmas party has been reinstated after taking his case to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.
  • Michelle | 05 May 2014, 12:15 PM Agree 0
    So sexual assault in the workplace is okay if an apology note is sent to the victims. I think both should have been terminated. Totally disgusting too that this sort of behaviour occurred by people employed with the judiciary.
  • Estelle | 05 May 2014, 12:23 PM Agree 0
    In my books both men should have been fired. And being gay has nothing to do with it. Nothing being said as to whether the women sought legal action against the men involved. Did they go to the police in which case these men may have ended up with a conviction against them and then would they be able to hold their jobs having regards as to where they work? Food for thought?
  • Amanda | 05 May 2014, 12:45 PM Agree 0
    Touché Michelle. Deplorable!
  • Rosalie | 05 May 2014, 01:08 PM Agree 0
    What's been said says it perfectly. This is absolutely shameful.
  • Michael | 05 May 2014, 02:03 PM Agree 0
    Termination for both is a start. I would encourage the women to report them to the poloce for sexual assault.
    Their employer MUST support them and this outcome is shocking.
  • Clem Wright | 05 May 2014, 02:32 PM Agree 0
    Surely this case is about sexual assault not sexual harassment. The physical contact makes all the difference. So why is the perpetrator being told to do "sexual harassment" training ?" The Commissioner was right to emphasise the need for consistency of treatment of perpetrators otherwise they always get let off the hook. Why didn't the victims lay complaints with the police ? Yet another reminder of how potentially dangerous and career destroying office Christmas parties can be !
  • Adam | 05 May 2014, 02:56 PM Agree 0
    You're right Clem. It is assault in my book; no matter that the Australian Human Rights Commission includes "unwelcome touching" in its definition of sexual harassment.

    And what would have been the reaction if a woman had inappropriately touched the the gay man?

    Sexual orientation has nothing to do with this issue at all.
  • Heather | 05 May 2014, 03:06 PM Agree 0
    It seems the legislation, like traffic lights in Cairo, is merely 'decoration', a 'general guideline' not necessary to abide by at any level of application!!
  • Bernie Althofer | 05 May 2014, 04:01 PM Agree 0
    Cases such as this highlight the difficulty facing individuals and organisations when it comes to setting and maintaining standards of behaviour and conduct in a workplace.

    As has been indicated in a number of discussions, policies and procedures have to be applied consistently across all levels of an organisation i.e. the rules are not different because of position or gender etc. It also appears that in some cases, some individuals use the 'grog made me do it'.

    There are many issues that could be raised in relation to this case and others of a similar ilk. However, organisations need to consider the importance of conducting a risk assessment when approval is given to conduct the work related function i.e. the Christmas function. In addition, consideration has to be given to the potential risk facing an organisation and individuals if a worker fails to comply with a Code of Conduct, Work Health and Safety Legislation, and even Anti-Discrimination legislation. There have been so many presentations and decisions relating to the risks involved in holding various functions, particularly those where alcoholic beverages are provided, and workers are in attendance, that one would hope that incidents such as the one reported are becoming increasingly rare. However, I suspect that when decisions such as the one reported are made, those who have been subjected to such behaviours, will have second thoughts about making a complaint.

    If the punishment meted out to this person was considered harsh in relation to that of his manager, what was the punishment meted out to the manager? If managers are supposed to be in a position of helping to maintain workplace standards, then a more severe punishment should have been considered.

    The last time I look, No meant No.
  • Helen | 06 May 2014, 10:58 PM Agree 0
    In both cases these are adult males...do they not know the difference between right and wrong? The decision here to reinstate is wrong...the more senior employee should have also been brought to face his errors...both should be terminated immediately! Sexual harassment of any form by anyone at any level in the organisation should not be condoned!
  • Rose | 07 May 2014, 12:13 PM Agree 0
    Unbelievable - If this had happened on a construction site and the person be from Blue Collar background would it have been the same out come? I can not believe this was not deemed sexual assault. If I was one of those groped I would not want to see the person again let alone have to work with them.
  • Vera | 07 May 2014, 12:49 PM Agree 0
    Maybe the terminology should also be changed. "Groped" sounds a little bit like fumbling in the dark. Not sure what the right word is, "assault" seems to indicate some degree of violence; and "harassment" somehow trivialises the touching element of the offence. "Impropriety" whitewashes it. I am leaning towards "sleazy offences".
  • Leanne Faraday-Brash | 07 May 2014, 01:06 PM Agree 0
    Very frustrating case with a determination that is totally counterintuitive and morally repugnant. For a dismissal to be unfair it must be harsh OR unjust OR unreasonable. It was deemed harsh (relative to the protected senior manager) therefore - unfair. It doesn't sound like the commissioner thought the behaviour in any way reasonable or termination as an outcome unjust, in and of itself.
    Different strokes/punishments for different folks based on gender, seniority, age or sexuality is just as morally repugnant as unwelcome sexual attention.
    Some sexual harassment is undoubtedly sexual assault but requires a police charge and a conviction to be deemed so. Hope these explanations help.
  • Melissa | 08 May 2014, 04:29 PM Agree 0
    I find the outcome extremely disappointing and shows again how far behind the rest of the world we are. As a HR professional who has been subjected to sexual assult in the workplace I am disgusted that these men were allowed to remain in the workplace. What message does this send to other employees who feel that treating other people like this is okay?

    Both men should have been terminated for their behaviour. An extremely disappointing outcome.
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