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Hotel deemed "workplace" in sexual harassment case

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HC Online | 15 Aug 2014, 11:22 AM Agree 0
A recent court ruling demonstrates that the term “workplace” doesn’t necessarily just mean the office when it comes to sexual harassment complaints.
  • John C | 16 Aug 2014, 11:04 AM Agree 0
    So does this bankrupt the contractor? That's the price of a house? Who gets the money?
  • John C | 16 Aug 2014, 11:10 AM Agree 0
    This is bureaucracy gone mad and out of control! Sure no one advocates any form of harassment, allegedly sexual or any other forms of bullying and it needs to remedied. The legislators have lost the plot with these outrageous fines. That's not the answer!
  • Amanda Rochford | 18 Aug 2014, 03:07 PM Agree 0
    I dont find the $ amount of the fines excessive. Sexual harassment is serious. People who are continuously harassed and bullied experience a plethora of negative emotions, reduced self-esteem, impaired judgement, are less capable (because they feel less secure), and it affects their ability to earn income now and into the forseeable future. Yes, the fine is the price of a house but the cost of being bullied and harassed is a life without fulfilling your potential. Time to stop treating these actions as though they are harmless.
  • ThisHRperson | 18 Aug 2014, 03:57 PM Agree 0
    What I don't like or agree with is this convenient term of what suffices as a "workplace".
    Essentially if you are mates, dating, run into, neighbours, etc with a co-worker you can call anywhere they are the "workplace" bringing in the employer.
    At what point is the individual responsible for their own actions.
    And at what point do we put a cap on these fines. That's ridiculously high.
  • John C | 19 Aug 2014, 09:24 AM Agree 0
    Amanda, I am not for one moment suggesting the actions of harassment are harmless or frivolous, however the fines are ridiculous! What if this happened to you and you were out on the street with your children with no where to live. If this was you I would suggest that you would find this outrageous. There is an alternative and humungous fines which put a family on the street is not the way. As I said before this bureaucracy gone mad! All this will do is open a plethora of claims from people trying to scam the system for big money with fraudulent allegations! Ridiculous! This has to be addressed before it gets out of control. Further the post from ThisHRperson is also most relevant. Where does one stop!
  • Amanda Rochford | 19 Aug 2014, 10:13 AM Agree 0
    One stops before one gets to harassment!
  • John C | 20 Aug 2014, 12:22 PM Agree 0
    Amanda, one must first understand the circumstances that caused this to occur. In most cases there are two sides to the story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. However depending upon the skill of the affected party in their ability to manipulate the truth may see a decision that is not just. That's why the penalties are obscene, unless of course you are in for the money!
  • Amanda Rochford | 21 Aug 2014, 10:32 AM Agree 0
    Why do you assume it is only the victims that are capable of manipulating the truth. Or that only the victims may have an alternative agenda?

    The court has decided, with all the available facts, that this person has been sexually harassed. I dare to venture the judge undertood the circumstances better than either you or me. Your intial comments were that the $ amount of the fine was excessive. I disagree. Women have had to take leave without pay from their jobs for years to recover from this insidious type of behavour. They have had to sell their houses and move interstate (with their kids) to move to other lower paying jobs. The cost to the victims isnt small or insignificant and carries on for years and ultimately affects their retirement benefits. Much, much more than a measly $250,000.

    Any punitive action is excessive if the crime hasnt been committed. Thats obvious. However, to assume that women lie in these cases and that men dont is mysoginist.
  • Bernie Althofer | 21 Aug 2014, 11:27 AM Agree 0
    This case reminds me of a case that I used as a reference in the early 90's when presenting on sexual harassment. Essentially two employees went to licensed premises for lunch. During the lunch, discussions turned to work and in addition, some events occurred that lead one of the parties to make a complaint about sexual harassment.

    The case focused on whether or not it was a workplace. As it transpired for that particular case, the licensed premises was found to be a workplace for the two employees because they discussed work related matters. It also appeared that if work had not been discussed, it would have been deemed work related.

    From my perspective, it always pays to read the Court, Commission or Tribunal decision that is provided in relation to cases such as the one mentioned in the above article. These decisions provide an insight into how the decision was made, the various factors that were considered and the logic behind the amount awarded.

    For those organisations who don't have systems or processes in place to maintain currency of knowledge regarding these types of decision, I would urge them to consider doing so. In addition, there needs to be ongoing workplace education so that managers and workers clearly understand the changing environment in which we all operate.
  • caca | 21 Aug 2014, 11:49 AM Agree 0
    My biggest issue is why is this considered a workplace?
    Why is anywhere but an actual workplace considered so?
    I can understand the office, another related office, a client's office or a conference(in the actual conference).
    Once you step outside those boundaries, you are an individual. Why drag your workplace into this?
  • Amanda Rochford | 21 Aug 2014, 12:54 PM Agree 0
    I think this is considered to be a workplace because employees are still employees when they get into a taxi to go to another office, or when they are in a cafe at morning tea, when they eat at a pub for lunch, at after work drinks, when they are in a hotel because they are travelling for work purposes. Poor behaviour is still poor behavour even out of the workplace. The reason that 'being considered a workplace' is relevant in some instances is because the employer will carry some responsibility when/if the poor behaviour is reported. If the harassment happens in a persons private life then they would not involve the employer.
  • Amanda Rochford | 21 Aug 2014, 12:58 PM Agree 0
    also it has to do with the relationships. Coffee with your manager at morning tea is not something most employees can say no to. Eating lunch together when you travel for work is also difficult to get out of. You hang around people at work because you have no choice, you may socialise to a limited degree because it keeps the relationships friendly and easygoing. If you hang out on the weekend and you are in your home town, that is usually your own choice.
  • Geoff | 24 Aug 2014, 03:52 PM Agree 0
    Abuse of power and gender at work is unacceptable. The fact that so many are talking about it is sad. It's a no brainer. Work extends into social functions so for goodness sakes behave!
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