A young cafe worker has won a huge $20,000 compensation pay out after her boss sent her a vibrator for Valentine’s Day.
The man, who was 80, then suggested the woman who was aged in her 20s, could come back to his house to see his partner’s sex toy collection, where she could use them too.
Vibrator was ‘last straw’
The offensive gift was the culmination of months of sexual harassment perpetrated by cafe owner against the woman, including unwanted physical contact, kissing and suggestive remarks.
“Most people are up for a gag at work. but when that gag causes a ‘gag reflex’ then you know you’ve gone too far,” said Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims, who represented the woman in the Anti-Discrimination Commission.
“How is it that a person in a modern workplace, particularly a boss, can think that it is okay to send a sex toy to a much younger staff member – it just beggars belief.
“It’s illegal, it’s disgusting, and it’s not on.”
‘You’re being hard to get’
The woman said the sexual harassment began six months earlier at the cafe in regional Queensland when the owner touched her on the backside.
When she told him to stop, he said, “you’re being hard to get”.
A few weeks later, the touching continued, and escalated to requests for “cuddles”, before the man tried to put his tongue inside her mouth and kiss her without her consent.
He would constantly ask the worker, “Do you love me”, and when she ignored him, he would reply, “I love you too”.
After complaining about his advances, the boss asked the worker, “Do you want to meet me somewhere else to ‘do it’?”
Woman begged for the harassment to stop
Desperate, the woman tried one last time to stop the harassment by pleading with her boss in a text message:
“I am finding your physical contact and verbal advances towards me at work unacceptable.
I have spoken to you before with regards to me being uncomfortable with you touching me inappropriately, and ask you to stop.
“I have a right to feel safe and comfortable in my place of work.”
“She was clearly desperate to be left alone so she could do her job, I mean how many times did the boss need to be told that she wasn’t interested in him?” Mr Heffernan said.
Woman went to police
The woman went to the police over the matter, but didn’t make a formal complaint, instead she contacted Discrimination Claims which filed a complaint in the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland, alleging persistent and unlawful sexual harassment.
The cafe owner soon agreed to pay the woman $20,000 compensation, and also agreed to provide her with a written apology.
Think twice before sending anything to a co-worker
Mr Heffernan said think twice before sending anything to your work colleagues, or your staff, particularly if you’re trying to be romantic.
“If you’re online, and you’ve got your credit card ready, and you’ve got the choice to go to Interflora, or ‘Naughty But Nice’, stick with Interflora,” he said.
“But remember, flowers can possibly get you in trouble too, but a lot less trouble than a sex toy.
“The best advice is to never send anything at all, not flowers, not selfies, and definitely not a dildo.”
If you believe you have been sexually harassed at work, you may be entitled to compensation.
Please call Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice about your options.
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