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Hotel pays more than $300K in damages for sexual harassment

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) has ordered a hotel and its night caretaker to pay more than $300,000 in damages for the sexual assault of a female employee after unsolicited sexual advances were made.

The QIRC held that the unsolicited advances constituted sexual harassment and found the hotel and caretaker jointly and severally liable.

The QIRC rejected the hotel’s claim that it was not vicariously liable for the assault because it did not occur ‘at work’ and that it was unable to prevent the assault.

The QIRC held that the hotel did not take reasonable steps to prevent the assault. Crucially, the hotel did not have an antidiscrimination policy in place nor had it taken any meaningful steps to inform or educate its employees about acceptable standards of conduct.

The QIRC noted that had the hotel taken steps to inform its workers and provide training, then it may have avoided responsibility for the unlawful acts of its worker.

This serves as a timely reminder that it is incumbent on employers to ensure that relevant policies and procedures are legally compliant, and that employees are regularly trained on those polices.

We often work with employers to ensure that their policies and procedures are compliant and roll out employee training sessions on those policies.

When was the last time you reviewed your policies and conducted training?

STU v JKL (Qld) Pty Ltd & Ors

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."