Halliday targets harsh realities of workplace sex discrimination

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Halliday targets harsh realities of workplace sex discrimination

Employers have a long way to go in making the workplace free of sexual harassment and discrimination, if a kit of case studies released yesterday by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission is anything to go by.

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Employers have a long way to go in making the workplace free of sexual harassment and discrimination, if a kit of case studies released yesterday by the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission is anything to go by.

 

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Susan Halliday launched the kit, ‘Harsh Realities 2’, yesterday after the success of a similar venture last year. 

The 17 cases, all real-life complaints that were before the commission, deal with pregnancy and sexual discrimination, and sexual harassment. They have been produced as a training guide for employers and workers. Halliday urged as many people as possible to read them, ‘as we each have a responsibility to work towards eradicating discriminatory inhumane workplace behaviour’.

She said the cases, while challenging, ‘impose some pertinent messages on those who believe sex discrimination and sexual harassment are no longer plausible issues’.

Halliday warned that although the worst of the language had been omitted, the content was disturbing and the behaviour of some co-workers and superiors ‘could only be described as repugnant’.

The kit outlines a litany of abuses, including:

  • a boss telling a pregnant worker she should have an abortion, then dictating a letter to her sacking her and urging her to sign it;
  • a food industry worker being sacked while on maternity leave;
  • a retail worker being pressured to resign while pregnant, then being sacked when she refused to do so;
  • a drunken boss ringing a worker at night and harassing her;
  • an auditor being excluded from events and paid less because of her gender, then being further discriminated against when she complained; and
  • a manager in a large government organisation taking a photo of a pregnant woman’s buttocks and showing it to her co-workers while making comments about her.

And the outrages weren’t only against women. One male employee received $3,500, and his company agreed to train his co-workers in EEO issues, after he was harassed by comments about his sexuality, and subjected to sexually-explicit gestures and taunts.

Penalties ranged from $2,000 to $130,000.

The kit is available on the HREOC website at http://www.hreoc.gov.au/sex_discrimination/harsh_2/index.html

 

 

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