In 2009, a female employee made a formal complaint regarding improper conduct in the workplace, including continuous inappropriate and derogatory comments, by a Northern Territory Police Force member to whom she was a personal assistant, Bert Hofer. The complaint resulted in an investigation and Hofer’s demotion and transfer. On April 13, 2010, the female employee further made a complaint to the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission of discrimination and sexual harassment in violation of the Anti-Discrimination Act (Northern Territory). Pursuant to Section 66 of the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Commissioner must accept or reject a complaint not later than 60 days after receipt of the complaint. The complaint was accepted on November 1, 2010, well beyond the 60-day timeframe. Hofer argued that the decision to accept the complaint should be set aside due to the Commissioner’s failure to accept the complaint within the statutory timeframe. Further, Hofer argued that the Commissioner failed to consider whether the complaint was frivolous or vexatious. The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory held that the Commissioner did consider whether the complaint was vexatious, and determined that it was not. The fact that the Commissioner failed to accept the complaint within of the 60-day timeframe did not invalidate the decision as such a finding would result in unacceptable injustice inflicted on victims due to government inaction. Accordingly, Hofer’s application was dismissed and the Commissioner’s decision to accept the complaint was upheld.
Hofer v. Anti-Discrimination Commissioner