Boss’s trouser dropping was sexual harassment, Tribunal rules

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Boss’s trouser dropping was sexual harassment, Tribunal rules

An employer who regularly dropped his trousers in the office has been found guilty of sexual harassment of a female worker by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

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An employer who regularly dropped his trousers in the office has been found guilty of sexual harassment of a female worker by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

However, the female employee’s claim for psychological injury was rejected because other factors contributed to her alleged post-traumatic stress disorder.

In January 2004, the worker was employed to market the small businesses product, Business Builder.

She made a claim of discrimination and harassment under the Qld Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, alleging she had suffered PTSD because of her treatment by her boss.

‘Bum dance’

The worker gave evidence that her boss would celebrate good financial results achieved by the business by dropping his trousers to his ankles and do a ‘bum dance’ with his buttocks pointing towards the office workers.

She also contended he often spoke about his sex life (comparing his ex-wife with his current girlfriend) and, on one occasion, sat in his executive chair pretending to experience an orgasm.

Allegations proved

President Jean Dalton noted that although her boss ‘tried very hard to create the impression that he was a model employer’, his own staff ‘flatly contradicted’ his denials about inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

She found that the trouser-dropping and the sexual talk did occur in the office and that it constituted sexual harassment because it was unwelcome, caused her offence and to feel embarrassed.

Dalton awarded the worker $3,000, further finding there was no ‘safe evidence’ that she suffered PTSD and that, if she did, it was not primarily caused by the events at the workplace.

The worker had also made various claims of discrimination relating to treatment while she was pregnant, none of which were upheld by the Tribunal.

Foran v Bloom [2007] QADT 31 (5 December 2007)


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