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Sexual harassment should not be on the menu

A KFC franchise was ordered to pay an ex-employee $15,000 after she complained about her assistant manager ‘talking dirty’ and showing her porn on his phone at work.

The case was heard by the NSW Administrative Decision Tribunal. The tribunal found that the KFC assistant manager went about the workplace openly ‘talking dirty’, showing employees pornography and engaging in unlawful sexual harassment seemingly unchecked.

They found that the assistant manager had dragged the employee by the leg and suggested they go swimming naked at Bondi. The ex-employee was 17 years old at the time and the assistant manager was nearly twice her age.

The ex-employee said she felt ‘really scared’ during the incident. She spoke to her senior manager at the time and put her complaint in writing. But she did not return to work at the restaurant after the incident.

The tribunal found that the KFC franchise did not do enough to prevent the harassment and ordered them to pay $15,000 compensation for the injury to her feelings and distress she suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct.

The tribunal found that, while the franchise did not endorse the assistant manager’s behaviour, they did not do enough to stop it.

What does this say about sexual harassment?

This case reminds us that sexual harassment includes ‘talking dirty’, showing pornography at work and making sexual suggestions.

It also reminds us that sexual harassment is not limited to bosses – it is also unlawful for an employee to sexually harass a fellow employee.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1997 says a person sexually harasses another person if:

(a) the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the other person, or

(b) the person engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the other person, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

The key words here are offend, humiliate and intimidate.

The Human Rights Commission website lists these as examples of sexual harassment:

  • unwelcome touching
  • staring or leering
  • suggestive comments or jokes
  • sexually explicit pictures or posters
  • unwanted invitations to go out on dates
  • requests for sex
  • intrusive questions about your private life or body
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you
  • insults or taunts based on your sex
  • sexually explicit emails, social media or text messages

What you can do if you feel you are being sexually harassed

• Ask the person to stop

• Talk to your supervisor or your supervisor’s boss

• Contact your union or call the ACTU Workers Helpline on 1300 486 466

• You can talk confidentially with a Complaints Information Officer at the Human Rights Commission by calling the Complaints Infoline on 1300 656 419.