Employers are not mind readers

August 25th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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?

10 Responses to “Employers are not mind readers”

  1. TimG_Oz (971 comments) says:


    The headline “Blaming the Victim” is completely misleading. The employer is not “blaming” the victim at all.

    Had the harassment perpetrators been Union members, and been punished/dismissed, then they would have taken the employer to court for unfair dismissal.

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  2. Kea (15,179 comments) says:

    Why did she not simply tell the guys to knock it off ? Seems a terrible fuss to have to go to the ERA about it, when telling them to fuck-off would have worked. [It is a very different story if they continue to do it after that]

    I can not imagine if every slight in my workplace required the ERA’s involvement. I think there is more to this story.

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  3. Paulus (3,571 comments) says:

    Usual Media – Half a picture to suit.

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  4. WineOh (1,063 comments) says:

    Agree entirely with the position on this. How is this ‘blaming the victim’? Its just NOT blaming the employer.
    She even admits that she didn’t tell her employer… because she ‘didn’t trust them’

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  5. jims_whare (497 comments) says:

    Had a somewhat similar situation on a dairy farm several years ago.

    I had hired a relief milker – a young 18yr old girl who would milk with one of my staff a 32 yr old guy.

    After two weeks she complained to me that the guy had been touching her bum when they crossed over in the milking pit.

    I spoke to him to denied it and said that they accidentally brushed passed each other as the milking pit was narrow.

    No other witnesses and I found out the girl had been touched as a kid so was fairly sensitive to these situations.

    End result: Advised the guy to be very careful when around her and couldn’t do/say anything else (no evidence)
    She ended up quitting several days later.

    Without camera footage or an independent witness a he said/she said situation can be a prick to sort out.

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  6. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    This is where a union can be so valuable. Once they receive a complaint, the ball is in their hands.

    Of course you can’t blame an employer for not doing something when he didn’t know what was going on.

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  7. Ian McK (237 comments) says:

    Kedgley must have had a flashback to the night she awoke in the back of a car with Shadbolt, PYM days.

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  8. bobs (1 comment) says:

    The emplyers are not mind readers. This woman needed to growup, suck it up, and have told them (her employers)of what was happening.

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  9. william blake (116 comments) says:

    Jeez the courts say yes when they mean no.”the woman did not do enough to ensure her own safety.” If she had shot them in the balls she would have been banged up because Clayton Witherspoon has stuffed up the ‘provocation’ law. Bloody Judges say take the law into your own hands then punish you for it.

    They should all be taken out and hanged/flogged/shot in that order.

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  10. kowtow (13,237 comments) says:

    A slap on the bum is indecent assault and a police matter.

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