The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has held that an employer was not vicariously liable for the sexual harassment of an employee by a co-worker because it took positive steps to ensure compliance with its sexual harassment policy.  

The employer used a detailed employee handbook (which dealt with sexual harassment) as part of its induction process and had issued that handbook to the co-worker. The employer also ensured that all its employees including the co-worker, undertook training regarding sexual harassment on a number of occasions, both before and after the harassing incidents.

QCAT found that the co-worker had sexually harassed the employee and ordered that he pay $8,000 in compensation to him. However, QCAT found that the employer was not vicariously liable for the co-worker’s actions, as it “did more than merely have a policy in place. It took sufficient positive steps to ensure awareness and attempted compliance with appropriate workplace practices” to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Menere v Poolrite Equipment Pty Ltd and Anor [2012] QCAT 252