Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW


​Legal case

Sexual  harassment: 'no' means 'no' 

In a recent case of sexual harassment, a post master accused of sexually harassing a postal worker claimed that she enjoyed the attention and subtly encouraged his behaviour. 

She had in fact told him that she was flattered but was not interested, was married and needed her job. She asked him to behave professionally towards her. 

The judge quoted from another case: “If an employer does engage in sexual harassment of an employee, it is not appropriate to criticise the employee on the basis that she should have handled the sexual harassment better or should have stormed out of the room or escaped from the harasser earlier. It is enough if the respondent’s conduct amounted to sexual harassment under the Act.”

She said the postal workers behaviour was understandable, given that she had worked for the manager for a long time, she needed the job and he kept reassuring her the behaviour would stop. There was also evidence that the harassment, which included very inappropriate intimate touching, caused her to suffer daily panic attacks, sleep disturbances, weight loss nausea, shaking PTSD and major depression. 

The tribunal will hold another hearing to assess the damage and determine the amount of compensation payable. 

Collins v Smith (Human Rights) [2015] VCAT 1029 (10 July, 2015)

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