EMPLOYER HELD LIABLE FOR INADEQUATE HARASSMENT PROBE

A Sydney employer has been held responsible for a worker's psychological injury because they did not conduct a proper investigation into serious harassment allegations against the worker.

The Sydney Night Patrol & Inquiry (SNP) employee, who worked as a greeter at Sydney Airport, lodged a Workcover claim for psychological injury after alleged mistreatment by management and unfair dismissal.

SNP in turn accused the worker of sexual harassment based on vague accusations, such as leering and following female coworkers. However, the investigation into these allegations was found to be inadequate by the NSW Personal Injury Commission.

The Commission ruled the allegations did not contain clear evidence of sexually suggestive conduct, and SNP had failed to conduct a diligent investigation into the matter.

"Given the serious nature of the allegations made against him it would have been reasonable for the allegations to be clearly and completely put to the [worker] which has not occurred.

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour which constitute sexual harassment are extremely serious matters which demand diligent investigation. The evidence does not support that such an investigation was undertaken."

As a result, the SNP has been ordered to pay the incapacitated worker weekly payments.

Source: Ali v Sydney Night Patrol & Inquiry Co Pty Ltd [2023] NSWPIC 468 (13 September 2023)

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