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Sacked mum sues over sexual harassment

A mum who sold lingerie is chasing compensation in court, claiming she was sacked after rejecting her boss's advances.

The woman, who ran a Melbourne outlet store, was at a work function at the luxurious Flower Drum restaurant when the alleged sexual harassment took place in April this year.

According to documents filed in the Federal Circuit Court, the company's managing director repeatedly brushed his leg against the woman's leg and suggested they meet in private to discuss her future with the company.

She told him she would only meet with him in the office and in the company of the national sales manager, to whom she later complained.

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The next day she rang him to report sales figures and he told her: "Thanks very much for that, now that you have ruined my night."

Three weeks later, the woman received a letter stating her six-month contract had ended due to her "unsuitability" for her job, despite the fact that she had been exceeding her sales targets.

"I never received any warnings or negative feedback in relation to my performance or conduct until the day I was dismissed," she said.

Court documents show the company has applied to have the matter dismissed, claiming the action is vexatious, has no prospect of succeeding and is an abuse of court process.

An affidavit from the sales manager states the complainant did not make a sexual harassment claim and her contract was not renewed because of "poor performance and unsuitability for the role".

Zana Bytheway, executive director of JobWatch, the employment rights centre acting for the complainant, said the case "highlights the serious consequences faced by women when they stand up to sexual harassment".

The complainant "acted immediately and decisively against inappropriate conduct - firmly, politely and discreetly she rejected sexual advances in the workplace," she said.

"As a consequence she lost her job, a job that she loved and was good at."

The woman, a single mother from Glenroy, has not been able to find another job since May, and said she was significantly in debt. The hearing is due to take place on December 4.

This incident highlights the cost to companies of sexual harassment claims, in terms of time, money and negative brand exposure. iHR can help prevent these kinds of incidents and recommends EEO, bullying and harassment training with a view to a safer workplace for all staff.

Our training does more than inform about lawful behaviour – it addresses desired workplace behaviour and practices that reflect organisational values, create culture and increase motivation and staff engagement.

iHR Australia is also a leading provider of workplace investigations services to organisations that are dealing with allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour

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