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Telstra Worker Sues For Sexual Harassment

Telstra worker sues for sexual harassment

A former contractor is suing Telstra claiming she was sexually harassed and discriminated against by her boss.

The details

The full details of the sexual harassment and discrimination are unclear, but Fairfax reports that it involves inappropriate comments and messages.

The alleged victim is seeking an apology from her former boss, in addition to compensation for medical bills, lost wages with interest, legal expenses and other damages.

The alleged perpetrator is David Coli, who worked as general manager of strategic delivery until April 2018.

He no longer works for the telco.

A spokesperson for Mr Coli told Fairfax that he “would be vigorously defending all of the allegations in court.”

“The allegations are unfounded and the legal proceeding is regrettably an attempt to be financially recompensed by a large company for loss of employment unrelated to the accused,” she said.

The matter is headed to court after the parties failed to reach a resolution during a mediation session in the Human Rights Commission.

What Telstra says

A Telstra spokesperson told Fairfax the company was committed to providing a work environment that was “supportive and inclusive.”

“We take allegations of harassment very seriously and take appropriate action to address issues raised,” he said.

The spokesperson said there were two different version of events given by the people involved, and “given this matter is progressing before the court it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

What the experts say

James Vercoe from Discrimination Claims said everyone has a right to a safe workplace.

“Sexual harassment can have a devastating effect on victims, and it can be incredibly hard for them to come forward and make a formal complaint,” he said.

“In most instances, cases of sexual harassment are settled during mediation sessions, long before they get to court, and usually involve an apology and the payment of some compensation.

“Those who are subjected to this sort of unlawful conduct should know that they don’t have to put up with it, and there is help available.

“Victims who come forward should also know that they are legally protected from being victimised as a result of making a complaint – and for good reason.  It’s hard enough for victims to come forward, and it is entirely unlawful to punish someone for doing so.”

Update to Story

Mr Coli called on Saturday 19 January 2018 and said that he had commenced a separate claim in the Federal Court against the Complainant.  He was asked to make a comment for this article but he declined.

Separately Juliet Potter Potter from Girl Communications contacted to ask why the complainant’s name was not mentioned and that it made Mr Coli “look guilty in the media” and gave permission to be quoted.  A full list of parties can be found here in the public domain.

Further update to story

Mr Coli called on 2 February 2019, requesting this story be taken down.

He claimed that his previous spokesperson, Ms Potter, was not authorised to comment.

He also said that the complainant in the sexual harassment matter had “asked for mediation because she is scared of the evidence we are about to file”. 

However, a simple search of the Federal Court file shows that on 31 January 2019, His Honour Justice John Middleton, ordered by consent, (meaning Mr Coli agreed) that “the matter be listed for mediation before a Registrar of the Federal Court of Australia on a date after 3 May 2019 to be fixed by the Registrar”. 

When Mr Coli was challenged about his inaccurate claim that the woman had requested special mediation, when, in fact, the mediation was scheduled as part of the normal Federal Court process, he did not respond.

At the conclusion of the call, Mr Coli said that we could not publish today’s conversation.

Go deeper

READ MORE:  What is sexual harassment

RELATED STORY:  One in three lawyers experience sexual harassment

RELATED STORY:  Flight attendants report shocking sexual harassment

If you have experienced sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation.

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