Worker "humiliated" by photo on innuendo-filled poster

She agreed to be part of safety campaign, but the sign's tagline has sparked a discrimination case

Worker "humiliated" by photo on innuendo-filled poster
In September, 2015, Sydney Water employee Reem Yelda agreed to being photographed for a campaign to promote spine safety.

However, the 39-year-old said she felt “humiliated” after her image was used on a poster under the words “Feel great — lubricate!”

The poster was situated around depots and it was only then that Yelda learnt how her image had been used.

The poster also included the words “Kick off your SafeStarts by ‘warming up the joints’”.

Yelda was so upset that she has not returned to work since.

She has now lodged a complaint against Sydney Water and subcontractor Vitality Works with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

HRD contacted Sydney Water for comment and a spokesperson said the matter is currently before the Anti-Discrimination Board.

“The Board has asked that the parties keep this matter confidential and we respect the Board’s position on this,” said the spokesperson.

“While Sydney Water cannot disclose the specifics of this matter, Sydney Water’s position is that the poster was not conduct of a sexual nature, but a work, health & safety campaign.”

In a statement through her lawyers Slater and Gordon, Yelda said she the incident has left her “absolutely humiliated”. 

“It is a very male-dominated workplace and I felt like I had been turned into the punchline of a dirty joke,” Yelda was quoted as saying by News Limited.

“I felt betrayed after agreeing to be part of a serious and informative spine safety campaign, but instead I was made the laughing stock of my workplace.

“I worked for Sydney Water for 12 years and I strived to be respected and taken seriously in the workplace, but overnight I became ‘that woman from the poster’, a smutty joke.

“Sexual discrimination like this happens in workplaces every day and enough is enough.”

She added that nobody deserves to be made into a “laughing stock” and sexualised in their workplace.

“There are a thousand slogans they could have used that would not have humiliated me,” she said.

“I wouldn’t wish the shame, humiliation and anxiety I have experienced on anyone else, so I hope that speaking out will go some way towards stopping it from happening in the future.”


Related stories:
Worker dismissed for expressing same-sex marriage views
Sexual harassment in the workplace: What you need to know
Channel Seven and employee settle unfair dismissal claim

This story originally ran on September 28, 2017

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