Disgraced lawyer booted over sexual harassment complaint goes on to score VPS job

The transition of a lawyer accused of sexual harassment to a brand new position within the Victorian Public Service (VPS) raises questions concerning the efficacy of a complaints-based system within the office.

On Monday The Australian reported that a former Allens lawyer had been asked to leave its Melbourne office due to a sexual harassment incident at a Christmas social gathering 9 years in the past. According to the report, he was allowed to stay at work for a further 5 weeks till a bit of litigation was finalised. 

The senior lawyer now works for the VPS. A authorized consultant of the unnamed lawyer advised The Australian that the person’s “departure from his former employer is a matter which is confidential to him”. 

It is a state of affairs that’s acquainted to many workplaces — a colleague who’s complained in opposition to and departs below a cloud of alleged wrongdoing — and the sneaking suspicion that the subsequent organisation they’re about to be a part of has no thought of the potential dangers of this new rent.

The weak point of Australia’s complaints-based system within the office was admonished by Professor Louise Chappell from UNSW Sydney following the government’s response to the [email protected] report final week. 

“If the perpetrator strikes on, then what have you ever obtained left? You can’t sack them as a result of they’ve moved on, and that’s actually the one software in your toolbox,” Professor Chappell advised The Mandarin

A complaints-based system is what Professor Chappell describes as a ‘limiting course of’ as a result of it reinforces energy imbalances that permit individuals to get away with sexual harassment within the first place. 

Currently in Australia there isn’t any constructive responsibility for employers to take affordable and proportionate measures to eradicate intercourse discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation. The authorities’s roadmap additionally recognised that below current preparations, “addressing office sexual harassment is advanced and complicated for victims and employers to navigate”.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins really useful that this variation with regulation reform in her report (suggestion 17) so {that a} constructive responsibility on employers be included within the Sex Discrimination Act. She reiterated final week that she was prepared to help authorities with proof offered to the National Inquiry as they additional assessed the advice. 

“It can be a missed alternative to not introduce a constructive responsibility to take affordable and proportionate measures to eradicate sexual harassment,” Jenkins said in statement.

For the present complaints course of to work, it additionally relies upon on each the sufferer and alleged perpetrator remaining employed of their office. Professor Chappell observes that is one other method victims are deprived by the method. 

“If you might be sexually harassed [at work], you have got to have the wherewithal to complain about it and you might be already in a much less highly effective place.

“If you’ve left that firm, or the general public service or parliament home or wherever you’re working, then the sanctions are weakened in a method. It’s a lot tougher to handle the impunity points,” she says. 

Allens was approached for remark however referred The Mandarin to a general statement that was published on their website about incidents of inappropriate conduct on the agency. 

The assertion notes that the strategy to ‘stamping out’ harassment on the agency has, and can proceed, to evolve. The regulation agency additionally took the place that sexual harassment is unacceptable and stated a swift investigation would comply with any allegation.

“It’s necessary that our individuals really feel empowered to elevate complaints, be supported once they achieve this and have transparency concerning the implications imposed on those that have interaction in misconduct,” the assertion stated.  

“We are taking motion to construct a greater, extra holistic strategy for stopping and responding to sexual harassment.”

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