Sexual harassment incurs $45,000 payment

A woman was sexually harassed by a delivery courier visiting her work, the payout of $45,000 included $20,000 aggravated damages after the courier sent her threats for having allegedly complained against him when she did not.

The courier driver who frequented the woman’s workplace (a retail store) was known to refer to her as “Juicy Lucy” and harass her about her relationship status. The day of the incident he walked behind the counter and slapped her on the bum. In response, the woman said, “you can’t do that” to which he laughed and said, “don’t tell your boss”. The next day he called again and asked if she had told her boss, she had not but the store manager overheard and asked what happened. She told the courier driver not to do that, but he did not take this very seriously. The woman said the courier’s behaviour was very sleazy and made her uncomfortable. There was evidence to suggest he sought her out, asking where she was if he did not see her in the store

Three years after the initial incident her employer’s area manager visited and asked if couriers ever came behind the counter. The manager asked if the woman knew the courier in question and she described the incident. Without her consent or knowledge, her employer contacted the courier’s employer to investigate his misconduct. The woman asked her employer to drop the case. Later the courier’s lawyer sent a letter to the woman threatening defamation charges and demanding payment of $30,000. The woman was intimidated and after seeking medical consult was diagnosed with symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression and left her job a few months later.

The courier was stood down then reinstated and eventually dismissed by his employer for contacting the woman (through the defamation letter) when he was told not to.

The case was heard by the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. The delivery courier denied all allegations and claimed the woman and both employers were colluding to terminate him. However, the court found the woman’s claims were credible and corroborated by others from the workplace. The tribunal decided that the letter aggravated the situation and increased the degree of the courier’s misconduct. The tribunal ordered the courier pay $20,000 for aggravated damages caused by his defamation letter and $25,000 for injury.

In his case aggravated damages were awarded because the delivery courier threatened the woman with defamation proceedings and demanded payment when he wrongly assumed, she had made a complaint against him. The complaint was made by her employer without her knowledge when she had requested it not be pursued.

For more information or assistance with HR proceedings contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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Written by Danielle McNamee

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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.