A bisexual banker who was subjected to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying by his supervisor has negotiated a $60,000 settlement from his former employer.
*Mike had worked for the bank for more than four years when the new supervisor took over early in 2018.
From their very first meeting, the supervisor told Mike she could tell who was homosexual, and who was not, which threatened Mike, because he is a very private person and feared being ‘outed’ at work.
“My first husband left me for a man, I know all the signs, you can’t pull to wool over my eyes,” she told Mike during the meeting.
The supervisor would go on to make endless comments about how she perceived the sexuality of other people in the bank.
“Look at him just staring at his computer, he is gay,” she said about one staff member.
When a young man came into the office for an interview, she said to Mike, “he is gay too”.
She also described a branch manager as “camp as a row of tents”.
Mike said he was offended and threatened by the remarks, because it was clear that his supervisor didn’t like anyone she perceived was gay.
So cold she ‘had her period in cubes’
The supervisor boasted how she liked to sack people, and described herself as so cold that she “had her period in cubes”.
She delighted in telling Mike that she was about to fire a young staff member in front of the worker’s father, which Mike found extremely distressing.
The supervisor wouldn’t stop calling Mike on an approved leave day when he had to take his wife to a doctor’s appointment, and later threatened to sack him when he didn’t fire a young worker in his team at the bank.
When the supervisor refused Mike permission to leave the office to attend an appointment with a psychologist, which is unlawful under the Fair Work Act, he decided to make a formal complaint.
Post traumatic stress disorder
A psychologist and a psychiatrist diagnosed Mike with a number of disorders, including anxiety and depression, post traumatic stress disorder, social phobia and panic disorder, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder.
The medical experts said the cause of these conditions was directly linked to how he had been treated at work.
Industrial relations specialist Christiaan van Oeveren from Sexual Harassment Claims said not only had the supervisor breached the bank’s own policies, she had also engaged in unlawful bullying, harassment and discrimination.
“It is unlawful to treat someone at work the way Mike was treated, but it will be the bank that will pay the compensation, because the employer is responsible for the conduct of its employees, and in this case, it was responsible for the appalling conduct of the supervisor,” he said.
Sexual Harassment Claims took on Mike’s case, but before it reached a formal hearing in the Industrial Relations Commission, the bank agreed to pay Mike $60,000 compensation, plus an additional $1,500 to help fund his attempts to find a new job.
“More and more companies are coming to realise that when they allow this sort of unlawful conduct to go on in their workplaces, it’s going to cost them a lot of money,” Mr van Oeveren said.
“My advice to anyone who is having a workplace issue, whether you are an employee, or an employer, is to seek urgent expert legal advice.”
* Name changed
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