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Coal mine sexual harassment dismissals upheld

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fair Work Australia has upheld a Hunter Valley coal mine's decision to dismiss two employees for sexually harassing a fellow worker and drinking alcohol at the mine site.

Nathan Rollason and Jonathon Rowland were sacked from the Austar mine, near Cessnock in December last year, accused of bullying their colleague Ben Donaldson.

The behaviour included drawing pictures of male genitalia on Mr Donaldson's safety equipment and drinking alcohol at the mine gate at the end of a shift.

The workplace tribunal also heard Mr Rollason regularly displayed his penis and openly masturbated in front of his colleague.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union told the tribunal that the practice of drinking at the gate was well known to management and supported by supervisors at the mine.

Both Mr Rollason and Mr Rowland denied many of the accusations of bullying, but the tribunal was satisfied that the incidents described by Mr Donaldson did take place.

Tribunal Senior Deputy President, Anne Harrison found the conduct of both Mr Rollason and Mr Rowland reprehensible and intolerable, and described the arguments they had put to defend their behaviour as astonishing.

She found no lack of procedural fairness or any other mitigating factors that would warrant overturning their dismissal.


Reported by ABC News

EasyOHS Moderator Comments:

Do you have your Harassment and Bullying Policies and Procedures in place? 

Make sure you do, it may save you a lot of trouble and a lot of expense.  Recent court decisions have re-affirmed this type of behaviour will not be tolerated, and that employers who allow it, can be prosecuted and recieve large fines. 

Take action early to prevent this type of behaviour and the courts will back you.  (Note:  Always seek legal advice from a qualified legal expert prior to taking action). 

Regards

EasyOHS Advisory Team

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