TOP CARDIOLOGIST ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT

One of Australia’s top cardiologists has been accused of harassing a young female colleague, Jennifer de Jongh. Professor Chris Semsarian is alleged to have engaged in behaviour that included sending thousands of text messages and escalated to unwelcome physical contact and surprise visits to de Jongh's apartment.

De Jongh felt pressured by Semsarian, to whom she reported, and attempted to set boundaries in the face of persistent requests for coffee, inappropriate compliments, and comments, as well as unwanted physical contact. Eventually, she resigned and blocked her boss’s attempts to contact her.

“I loved my job. I never wanted a case out of this... I feared when I left, there would just be another woman” de Jongh is quoted as saying.

A case was originally submitted to the Human Rights Commission, but attempts at conciliation failed. De Jongh's solicitor has criticised the absence of an investigation by both the Centenary Institute where the cardiologist works and NSW Health with which the cardiologist is associated and subsequently filed a harassment claim in the Federal Court. It is reported that Semsarian has denied the claims and planning his own legal defence.

These OHS Reps webpages provide guidance on discrimination, harassment, and gendered violence for HSRs.

Source: The Age, 26 March

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