Casino sexual harassment case highlights need for communication

by 07 Feb 2012

Revelations of alleged sexual harassment and subsequent cover-ups at Sydney’s Star Casino have come to light after the complex was forced to provide a report to the NSW Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority yesterday into the circumstances behind the dismissal of its managing director, Sid Vaikunta.

Reports have emerged that employees at the casino complained to the gambling authority just two months before the sacking that widespread sexual and other harassment was commonplace by high-rolling customers, and managers routinely turned a blind eye to complaints.

The plight of the casino highlights the brand damage that can occur when policies are disconnected from workplace culture.

In a recent report by commercial law firm DLA Phillips Fox, The Serious Business of Sexual Harassment, nearly 300 representatives from a range of private, not-for-profit and public-sector bodies in Australia answered questions on issues relating to sexual harassment and discrimination.

While the majority of survey respondents indicated that their organisation had policies in place to define sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour, approximately half did not believe the workplace culture is consistent with the defined sexual harassment and discrimination policies.

Other key findings included:

  • 50% of respondents were aware of incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace for which no formal complaint was made

  • Almost one-third of respondents were concerned that a section of their workforce had developed a 'rogue culture'

  • Nearly 40% of survey respondents could not confirm that their organisation provides training for staff around equal opportunity and diversity issues such as sexual harassment

According to DLA Phillips Fox Partner, Rick Catanzariti, having the right policies in place is often not enough. "Without adequately communicating the policies to staff through activities such as training and positive role modelling, it's impossible to ensure the right message is getting through," he said.

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