An employee at a Sydney takeaway business has been awarded aggravated damages after her manager fired her for complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace. The judge accepted the employee’s evidence as to her drug abuse and mental illness subsequent and relating to her dismissal, and deemed the employer’s response to the complaint ‘wholly inappropriate and ineffective’.

The Federal Circuit Court accordingly found the employer, the shop’s manager, vicariously liable due to his lack of action once the matter had been brought to his attention, when he asked the employee to drop the issue ‘if you respect our friendship’. The manager was also found to have breached the SDA’s anti-victimisation provisions by dismissing the employee once she complained of the harassment.

The company was in liquidation at the time of the proceedings. The manager involved in the management of the Takeaway and who acted substantially in the position of employer was vicariously liable for the sexual harassment and unlawfully victimised the employee and was ordered to pay the employee $75,000 plus interest. He was also jointly and severally liable for damages of  $24,300 ordered against the supervisor and day to day manager plus interest awarded for the sexual harassment.