Respect in the Workplace

Company Loses Appeal Against Discrimination Conviction and Fine
Asia Pacific

WorkSafe Victoria has announced that the Supreme Court has dismissed Patrick Stevedoring Pty Ltd’s (Patrick) appeal against its discrimination conviction under s. 76 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 No. 107 (Vic) and $180,000 fine imposed by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in January 2011. Section 76 prohibits the detrimental treatment of an employee for exercising his or her power as a health and safety representative. Patrick was found to have treated an experienced stevedore in such a manner throughout a series of incidents in 2007, after the worker raised concerns over the safety of a “basket lifting technique” for lifting steel loads.
WorkSafe Victoria’s media release (25 November 2011)
(Source: WorkSafe Victoria; Lawlex Legislative Alert & Premium Research)

China Plans to Extend Maternity Leave
Asia Pacific

Bloomberg reports that the Chinese Legislative Affairs Office plans to extend paid maternity leave from 90 to 98 days in an overhaul of labour conditions. The move will standardise Chinese labour rights in order to comply with International Labour Organisation standards, according to Bloomberg. The plan reportedly includes additional insurance coverage for claims related to childbirth and miscarriage.
Bloomberg: Longer Maternity Leave in China Signals More Women’s Rights (23 November 2011)
(Source: Bloomberg)

Rise in “Spurious” Complaints Conceals “Genuine” Cases of Workplace Bullying
Asia Pacific

The Australian reports that workplace regulators have expressed concern that genuine workplace bullying may be overlooked as a result of the increasing number of “vexatious and misguided” bullying complaints. Reportedly, workplace bullying complaints have “more than quadrupled in three years”, but an analysis for The Weekend Australian revealed that more than two-thirds of complaints lodged with WorkSafe Victoria turned out to be minor personal issues, with only eight out of the 2080 complaints deemed serious enough to warrant potential prosecution.
The Australian: Spurious cases mean genuine bullying in workplace is ignored (26 November 2011 – subscriber access only)
(Source: The Australian)

Sexual Harassment Recognised as Workplace Injury
Asia Pacific

The Korea Herald reports that Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Services has acknowledged sexual harassment as a workplace injury, compensating a female worker who was the victim of repeated sexual harassment nine million won (US$7,725) in treatment expenses for her industrial injuries. Two male officials responsible for the harassment were reportedly ordered to pay medical expenses and compensation for the woman’s insomnia, depression and anxiety.
The Korea Herald: Sexual harassment recognized as work-related injury for first time (27 November 2011)
(Source: The Korea Herald)

Woman Sues Over Workplace Harassment and Bullying

The Herald Sun reports that IBM employee Susan Spiteri is suing the company for $1.1 million over a claim that her former supervisor, Joe Arcuri, sexually harassed and bullied her for almost two years, including an incident in which she was told to “show her breasts to get more sales”. Ms Spiteri has reportedly filed a claim in the Federal Court alleging that Mr Arcuri “scream[ed] abuse at her, [told] her she was stupid, [said] embarrassing things about her to customers and workmates, and repeatedly call[ed] her on her mobile phone after hours”. According to the Herald Sun, Ms Spiteri claimed that she suffered a mental breakdown as a result of the continuous harassment and bullying, and had tried to take her own life on several occasions. Maurice Blackburn legal counsel Siobhan Keating reportedly said that “IBM’s failure to act had a catastrophic effect on Susan’s health”, noting that “there had been a positive shift in community attitude towards acknowledging workplace bullying, particularly since the Brodie Panlock case”. IBM is yet to file a response to Ms Spiteri’s claim, reports the Herald Sun.
Herald Sun: Woman sues IBM for $1.1m over claim she was told to ‘get breasts out’ (20 October 2011)
(Source: Herald Sun)