Practice what you preach!

An HR employee has taken legal action against their employer for sexual harassment after his manager asked what celebrities he would want to have a threesome with. He is claiming his manager prompted him to say what famous people he would like to have sex with as part of a fantasy discussion during a team meeting.

The employee who refused to answer the question, stated that he was probed for an answer by his manager and other members of the HR team and said that the exchange “violated his dignity” and was “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature”.

During a preliminary tribunal hearing the employer allegedly brushed off the comments, that the remarks were “clearly banter”. But the tribunal heard that it had not been the first time a situation between the two named individuals had arisen.

The employee told the hearing that he experienced multiple situations where he felt “belittled” by his manager who would often tell him how to do things he already knew, like how to conduct an investigation and probation meeting, or how to copy and paste from a document.

A judge said at the hearing: “The claimant refused to answer and then was pressed to answer by the accused, and others present during the meeting. The claimant alleges that this was unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which had the purpose or effect of violating his dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

This demonstrates another case where misconduct is brushed off as ‘banter’ in the workplace. It goes without saying that HR must practice what they preach and be the stewards of their own policies. Brushing off behaviour as ‘banter’, even when it has impacted a team member at work, is not an attitude conducive towards a healthy culture.

Costs have not yet been determined for this case. If you would like more information or have any concerns about the subject, contact us at and we can discuss.

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