A young farmhand has won $30,000 compensation after being subjected to persistent sexual harassment while working on a north-Queensland property.
During the two years he worked on the farm, Nick* suffered constant taunts about his perceived sexuality, with his workmates referring to him as “gay”, “faggot” and “poofter”.
Graffiti was written on furniture, equipment, and vehicles around the farm which said “Nick loves boys” and his first aid kit was renamed “First Aids Kit”.
The harassment became so bad that Nick ended up in hospital after attempting suicide.
Brisbane firm Discrimination Claims took on Nick’s case and lodged a claim with the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland, where during mediation, the owners of the farm agreed to pay Nick $30,000 compensation for hurt, humiliation and lost wages.
Director of Litigation Miles Heffernan said the case illustrates what a devastating effect sexual harassment can have on victims.
“Here was a young man just wanting to turn up to the farm and get on with his work, and instead he was forced to endure never-ending torment and abuse,” he said.
“Sexual harassment is unlawful, and in this case when Nick’s bosses became aware of it, they did nothing to stop it, so they were in real trouble.”
Miles Heffernan said sexual harassment is any behaviour that is sexual in nature that is uninvited or unwelcome and can include touching, staring, suggestive comments, text messages, graffiti, displaying offensive posters and repeated requests for dates.
The harassment does not have to be ongoing to be unlawful, and it can happen at work, or anywhere that is work related including bars, hotels, restaurants and even taxis, Mr Heffernan said.
“Everybody deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect at work, no matter their gender or sexuality,” Mr Miles Heffernan said.
*Name has been changed to protect his identity.
(Photo by Dusan Kostic/Adobe Stock)
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