Workplace bullying, sexual harassment and racial discrimination, like sexual abuse cases, are particularly difficult to prove. The evidence in Ms Poniatowska's case comprised emails and telephone text messages, which supported her assertions of her colleagues' unwelcomed and unwanted attention.
Very often workplace bullying and sexual harassment is more covert, with few eye witnesses and documentary evidence to support the allegations.
Victims are often reluctant to take on colleagues and their employer due to embarrassment and fear of a backlash.
Victims are often made to feel it is their fault if unwelcome attention from a colleague of the opposite gender is paid to them, or that they had somehow contributed to the behaviour of the offender, as in the case of Ms Poniatowska
Such victimisation can include adverse performance review, alienation and many other negative attacks on a victim, such that it increases their stress levels and decreases their self-worth.
Harassment or bullying can be doled out in small doses to a victim and each act may be explained away as nothing more than perhaps workplace banter or camaraderie, but the cumulative effect may build a picture of harassment over a period of time.
More often than not a victim is advised not to pursue legal action, with all the attendant costs and stress, and the risk of damage to reputation. However, when a course of conduct is examined, it can paint an insidious picture which may compel a victim to pursue legal redress.
Some employers pay lip service to workplace bullying and sexual harassment and think that having published policies is sufficient to discharge their obligations of fair work practices.
Others are adept in having processes which appear to comply with the corporate policies, but it is the culture of the workplace which has to be policed for such practices to be stemmed.
Zero tolerance to workplace bullying and sexual harassment, in addition to legislative safeguards, is the only certainty that such odious behaviour may be redressed.