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We Are Union Journal
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Free speech at work? It's complicated

First prosecution for Gendered Violence as OHS issue

In November the boss of two coffee shops in hospital settings was convicted and fined for the sexual harassment of multiple staff.

The court heard six workers, aged as young as 16, were sexually harassed physically and verbally by their boss and also witnessed other staff being harassed.

The sexual harassment included touching, groping and sexually intrusive and suggestive comments.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the boss’ behaviour stretched back to 2014, and although the café had an online bullying and harassment policy, it had no contact details to make a report and none of the employees understood who they could complain to.

This is the first-ever fine and prosecution WorkSafe has imposed for sexual harassment. It has taken years of advocacy by women in union to have gendered violence understood as a workplace health and safety issue.

We’re proud union women have led this change in thinking and action around sexual harassment - as an OHS issue we can eliminate, not just a nebulous society-wide problem to hold morning teas about.

We’re proud that WorkSafe has succeeded in its first prosecution. We’re proud of the work the Victorian Labor government has done in advocating for our approach at a national level.

We won’t stop until every worker in every workplace is safe from gendered violence.

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