In a recent case a woman alleged she was sexually harassed by a supervisor in her workplace. She sued and the supervisor was ordered to pay damages. However, she also sought damages from the employer, alleging that the employer was liable for the acts of the employee.
The Anti-Discrimination Act deems an employer liable for sexual harassment of its workers unless it can show it took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from committing the sexual harassment.
The employer had a “Behaviour Handbook” at the workplace, but could provide no evidence of any training given to reinforce any policy in the handbook.
This may have been fatal, had it not been for the fact that the Tribunal was very impressed with the speed with which management acted in response to the allegations. The day after the incident it conducted all necessary interviews, demonstrating how seriously it took the complaint.
Clearly, policies and training are extremely important, but swift and appropriate response must be a major part of an employer’s strategy to minimise the risk of liability arising from employee misconduct.
Contact a member of our Employment Law Team to discuss further.