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Is an invitation to swim in your underwear sexual harassment?

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HC Online | 24 Jun 2014, 11:25 AM Agree 0
When does unwelcome attention become sexual harassment? It’s not always a clear-cut situation. HC looks at what you need to know about this complicated issue.
  • purgold | 24 Jun 2014, 03:44 PM Agree 0
    It might be not sexual harassment to invite a subordinate to swim in underwear but in the line of business conduct it might be seen as inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.
  • Camilla Kelly | 24 Jun 2014, 03:57 PM Agree 0
    This seems ridiculous to me! I am shocked to think that we have a legal system that treats people differently due to their positions. If this was a car sales boss doing these things to a secretary, I could not imagine it being a 'difficult case' and having the same outcome.... Wow - Australia really is behind the times!!!!
  • Linda | 24 Jun 2014, 10:57 PM Agree 0
    You have got to be joking! There are clearly sexual innuendos in this exchange which would make any female uncomfortable....especially on a business trip with a boss! I suggest the applicant find a female barrister and bring on an appeal.
  • H | 25 Jun 2014, 10:58 AM Agree 0
    The issue isn't if it was, or was not alluding to sex. Sex in itself is not a bad thing, or something that cannot be discussed or joked about in the workplace. The issue is that if these events crossed over into the space where a reasonable person would see it as harassment. Without publishing entire conversations it is hard for us to get an idea of the back and forth between them but if they had a flirty dialogue then (although highly unrecommended by any risk adverse HR Practitioner) it isn't sexual harassment.
  • Bernie Althofer | 25 Jun 2014, 12:13 PM Agree 0
    It may well have been in breach of the Code of Conduct for that particular workplace.

    It appears from reading the above article that there were sexual overtones implied. Reading the detailed transcript might provide a better insight as to why the decision was made as is being reported.
  • Howard Whitton | 26 Jun 2014, 11:24 AM Agree 0
    Seems to me that the Court got this (difficult) one right - context and intention are 99% of everything important in a case of claimed 'sexual harassment', given the way our laws have defined it. Even the actual words used, and the tone of voice involved, can be crucially important.
    Of course, some acts or conduct in some circumstances will be rightly seen as unwise, or regrettable, or just plain dumb, but that doesn't of itself get a complainant over the bar. All the more need for HR practitioners to be highly skilled in this area.
  • Batman of Brisbane | 26 Jun 2014, 01:21 PM Agree 0
    Sexual Harassment also comes down to what is perceived by the recipient and how that behaviour would appear to an outside observer: While judges are entitled to the presumption of innocence and natural justice as much as the next person, it is difficult to avoid the impression of professional bias in this case. I wonder if the respondent had been other than a judge whether the outcome might have been different?
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