A South Australian judicial officer has been accused of sexual harassment.
The state’s Chief Justice Chris Kourakis will personally oversee sexual harassment complaints from members of the legal profession as a result of the allegation.
South Australian judicial officer accused of harassment
The Equal Opportunity Commission recently released a report which found widespread sexual harassment in addition to discrimination within the state’s legal profession.
Commissioner Jodeen Carney said the allegation against the male judicial officer is concerning.
Mr Kourakis expressed disappointment as a result of the complaints involving serving and retired judicial officers.
“It is important that victims of sexual offending or sexual harassment by judicial officers be given an opportunity to tell their story to the Chief Justice or the principal judicial officer of the court concerned,” he said.
Mr Kourakis said any form of harassment is unacceptable.
“Judicial officers must exemplify the respectful behaviours which the community expects.”
Inquiry finds entrenched gender bias
The Equal Opportunity Commission surveyed current and former workers in the legal profession, with more than 600 people responding.
It found a “patriarchal and hierarchical culture”, in addition to a “lack of cultural diversity” and a “deeply entrenched gender bias” are the drivers of harassment.
A disturbing 42 percent of respondents reported experiencing sexual or discriminatory harassment at work, one third of whom experienced it more than once.
The most common type of sexual harassment experienced involved sexually suggestive comments in addition to sexual jokes.
Almost 70 percent of respondents detailed such incidents.
One respondent wrote:
“The men in the firm … had a running joke about who could have sex on the most couches/armchairs in the office.”
The review made 16 recommendations – for example, all legal workplaces to consider implementing workplace equality and respect standards.
It also recommended increasing time limits for reporting misconduct in addition to providing anti-harassment training.
It also recommended the Attorney-General consider amending the Equal Opportunity Act to impose a duty upon employers to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.
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