The complainant worked at the Club Resort Holdings Pty Ltd., the respondent. She was working in a cold larder preparing food when a colleague sexually harassed her. The complainant sought an investigation by their employer. The complainant alleged that the employer improperly conducted this investigation, resulting in further distress for the complainant and her needing to take several months of work. Ultimately, she resigned. The complainant also alleged that their mutual employer was vicariously liable for these acts as a result of a failure to take “reasonable steps” to prevent such acts. The Tribunal awarded damages to the complainant, finding that: (i) the complainant was sexually harassed by her colleague; (ii) the sexual harassment constituted sex discrimination; (iii) the harassment constituted age discrimination; (iv) that the complainant was not victimized by her employers because she brought a sexual harassment complaint; and (v) respondent did not take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment.
Women and Justice: Keywords
The respondent was a married aboriginal woman employed at the The Black Community Housing Service as a bookkeeper since 1985 and later as an Administrator until her resignation in August 1992. The first appellant became the director of the Housing Service in December 1990, and the second appellant was the employer, The Black Community Housing Service. The respondent started receiving calls from the appellant where he expressed his love to her and made inappropriate sexual remarks. The appellant also made inappropriate sexual remarks to the respondent when attending meetings together, on other occasions he gifted her “sexually explicit figurines,” and “touched her sexually suggestively on numbers of occasions.” The respondent did not confront the appellant in fear of losing her job, but she did complain to the board of directors who took no action against the appellant. Respondent filed a complaint against the appellant on the basis of sexual harassment and discrimination, and ultimately resigned when the board of directors would not remove appellant from his position while the investigation was underway. The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found the claims of the respondent to be true. The Tribunal also learned that the employer did not have any policies on discrimination or sexual harassment, nor provided its employees with a training regarding the same. Since these are considered unlawful acts under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, the Tribunal ordered the employer and the appellant pay the respondent compensation for damages caused by the discrimination and sexual harassment. The first appellant filed this appeal stating that the Tribunal had no evidence that the respondent suffered any hurt and/or humiliation, nor that the respondent’s resignation was due to the behaviour of the appellant. The first appellant also objected on the compensation amount being “excessive in the circumstances.” The second appellant appealed, stating that the employer was not vicariously liable for the acts of the first appellant. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the orders of the Tribunal.
The respondent was employed as an apprentice by the first appellant, the second appellant was her supervisor, and the third, fourth, and fifth appellants were her co-apprentices. Over the course of the respondent’s employment with the first appellant, she was subject to unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment by the third, fourth, and fifth appellants (among others). The complaint by the respondent included her receiving sexual comments and unequal treatment by her superiors and co-workers because she was a female, and many of her peers told her that she was not fit for her job because she was a female. Examples of these acts were a display of pictures and posters of half-dressed women in various parts of the workplace, addressing the respondent in the presence of others at a training with inappropriate comments, not giving the respondent the same work opportunities as her male peers, and providing her with unfavourable report cards that included clear comments against her as a female. The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in the first instance found that the first appellant was negligent in providing the proper training to its employees on anti-discrimination and sexual harassment at the work place, subsequently allowing the other appellants to act in a discriminatory way towards the respondent because of her gender. Since these are considered unlawful acts under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, the Tribunal ordered the appellants to pay the respondent compensation for damages caused by discrimination and sexual harassment. The appellants’ filed this appeal objecting to the Tribunal’s findings. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the orders of the Tribunal.