Employers are not mind readers

Rob Kidd at Stuff reports:

An Auckland woman who quit work after being slapped on the bum and repeatedly sexually harassed has been told by the Employment Relations Authority it was partly her own fault, the ERA ruling the woman did not do enough to ensure her own safety.

The decision has caused outrage among employment experts who said the decision was unusual.

I contend it has not caused any outrage with employment experts and I am not sure it is that unusual.

“It’s absolutely astonishing. She’s the victim and they turn round and blame her,” said former Green MP Sue Kedgley, one of the founders of the National Organisation for Women.

“It’s an incredibly sensitive issue and they’re trying to shift the responsibility from the person carrying out the harassment to this rather vulnerable young woman.”

Sue Kedgley is not an employment expert.

There are three parties involved here. The woman, the other staff who allegedly harrassed her and the employer. All the ERA has said is that the employer can’t be held liable if you never ever tell them what is happening so they can put a stop to it. Employers do not have spy cameras in the workplace where they can monitor everyone.

Monaghan rejected her personal grievance claim because she had not complained to her bosses.

That gave the company no chance to stop the harassment.

She just walked off the job after a couple of months. Now I accept it can be difficult to decide to complain about sexual harassment as if you do, it can create hostility at work. But again how can you hold an employer accountable for something that you never ever tell them about?

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