A Melbourne office worker claims he was sexually harassed and discriminated against because he was gay, and when he complained, he says he was sacked.
Timothy Bye (pictured above) has lodged a complaint in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal alleging that his senior manager at Barkers Fresh Produce in Epping sexually harassed and discriminated against him based on his sexuality.
Mr Bye claims the manager would greet him and his female co-workers by saying “good morning ladies”.
“He would look at me while saying this but then he would go and greet all the other men by name and shake their hand, Mr Bye said.
On another occasion Mr Bye alleges that he overheard a conversation the manager was having in an office with the door open.
“He said faggots should not be alive,” Mr Bye said.
Mr Bye said that when he complained to the former chief executive of the company, nothing was done about the manager.
Other comments allegedly made by the manager to Mr Bye’s work colleagues included that “poo pushers are f**king disgusting” and that he was “against faggots” and that they “do not deserve to live”.
Mr Bye said that as a result of the harassment, he took three weeks annual leave, and when he returned, a temp worker had been assigned to his duties.
“When I came back I was no longer doing the job I was employed to do,” he said.
A formal statement made to VCAT says that the change to his role amounted to a reduced level of responsibility and “was therefore effectively a demotion”.
Mr Bye is claiming the sexual harassment, discrimination and victimisation he suffered during his time at Barkers has caused him significant hurt, psychological distress and lost income.
“It turned into a living hell for me because naturally I’m a very happy, bubbly person,” he said.
“To be put into a space where all that was completely taken away from me—I was dehumanised and made to feel like there was someone in the office who would rather have me in a coffin than sitting at my desk.”
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at employee advocacy firm Discrimination Claims, said it’s almost unfathomable that the conduct alleged in this case still goes on in modern workplaces.
“You would have thought businesses all over Australia would train their staff about the dangers of sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination,” he said.
“To treat someone differently because of an attribute like their sexuality is not only against the law, it’s also really dumb.
“If the claims are proven to be true in this case, it makes you wonder what sort of internalised homophobia the manager himself is dealing with, and surely he should seek some urgent therapy for the issues that he clearly has.”
Mr Bye has launched a gofundme page to help pay for legal and medical expenses.
The matter will be heard in the Tribunal this month.
If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice about your options.