Harassment at Pub leads to Employee Compensation

Harassment at Pub leads to Employee Compensation

A full court of the Federal Court has upheld a finding that a pub two work colleagues visited to deal with sexual advances one made to the other in their office across the road was a “workplace” under federal discrimination legislation.

Last year, the Federal Court found that a male accountant had verbally and physically harassed his female supervisor over three days in May 2009 under s28B(6) of the Sex Discrimination Act. Justice Bromberg found the man had initially harassed her one evening in the office, and then propositioned her across the road in a Hotel in Melbourne’s CBD. He renewed his advances in the office the following day, and then again the day after that.

He assessed the supervisor’s compensation at $476,163, but after taking account of settlements obtained from other parties, ordered the accountant to pay her $210,563 inclusive of interest.

The accountant appealed the finding in a couple of areas but specifically that the Hotel was not a “workplace” under s28B(7). Section 28B(7) defines a “workplace” as “a place at which a workplace participant works or otherwise carries out functions in connection with being a workplace participant”.

In their majority ruling on the workplace issue today, Justices Tony North and Tony Pagone said the supervisor had not accompanied the accountant to the Hotel in acceptance of his sexual advances, but “to deal with what she had repeatedly sought to discourage”.

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Michael is a specialist in all things HR. With vast HR experience in the USA and Australia, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and advice to HR Central. When he's not blogging for HR Central you can find him out for dinner in one of Melbourne's newest restaurants.

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