Reema Yelda knew she was having her photo taken for a workplace safety campaign, but never expected how it would turn out.
The 39 year-old agreed to front a 2016 Safe Spine campaign, but didn’t know Sydney Water would use her image on a workplace poster under the slogan, “Feel great – lubricate!”
She told The Daily Telegraph that she felt humiliated when her colleagues began contacting her, and has now made a sexual discrimination claim against her employer.
“I was absolutely humiliated — it is a very male dominated workplace and I felt like I had been turned into the punchline of a dirty joke,” Ms Yelda told the paper.
“I felt betrayed after agreeing to be part of a serious and informative spine safety campaign, but instead I was made the laughing stock of my workplace.
“I worked for Sydney Water for 12 years and I strived to be respected and taken seriously in the workplace, but overnight I became ‘that woman from the poster’, a smutty joke.”
Workplace advocate Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, says the case illustrates the seriousness of sexual discrimination in the workplace.
“Sex and sexual innuendo does not work at work. Any boss that sexualises an employee runs the risk of a claim against them for sexual discrimination,” he said.
Sexual discrimination is covered by both state and federal laws.
The Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales says it can include the following:
* when you are treated unfairly or harassed because of your sex – that is, because you are a woman or because you are a man
* when you are sexually harassed – this includes such things as unwanted sexual comments or abuse, unwanted sexual suggestions, offensive gestures and unwanted sexual contact
* where you are treated unfairly or harassed because you are pregnant or you are breastfeeding
If you believe you have been the victim of sexual discrimination in the workplace, there is help available. Contact Discrimination Claims on 1300 853 837 for a confidential chat about your options.