21 April 2011

Australia to criminalise Workplace Bullying: Workplace bullies may face jail time


Workplace bullying. Picture: Nicki ConnollySource: Herald Sun

BULLIES in workplaces will face jail when the state introduces laws to criminalise bullying.

Commercial law firm Kelly & Co believes it is "only a matter of time" before legislation is introduced in South Australia to deem workplace bullying illegal.

Legislation introduced in the Victorian Parliament on April 5 means workers found guilty of bullying face up to 10 years in jail.

It followed the case of a 19-year-old Melbourne woman who committed suicide after being bullied by co-workers and her boss at a lunch bar.

The employer was fined $220,000 under occupational health and safety legislation, with four co-workers also each fined between $10,000 and $45,000.

Kelly & Co partner and workplace relations lawyer Clare Raimondo said that workplace bullies were on "borrowed time".

"There's a groundswell of support to stamp out workplace bullying in SA," Ms Raimondo said.

A spokesman for Industrial Relations minister Pat Conlon said the Government would follow the progress of the Victorian legislation "with interest".

He said it already had introduced a Bill to Parliament in which the maximum penalty for an offence such as proven recklessness included five years imprisonment.


19 April 2011

Beauty Discrimination?!! ....Attractive women who attach photo to CV 'less likely to be employed'

  • Attractive men, however, more likely to get interview

It's long been suspected that some employers are swayed by a pretty face in a job interview.

But being good-looking might be an impediment to getting to that stage in the first place.

Attractive women who attach a photo to their CV are less likely to get an interview than their plainer rivals or those who do not send in a picture, research reveals today.

'Jealous' women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in are to blame for attractive women not getting interviews, says a new report (stock image)

'Jealous' women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in are to blame for attractive women not getting interviews, says a new report.

It blames young, single and ‘jealous’ women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in.

But in an example of the ‘double standards’ that the researchers said these staff employed, attractive men who attach a photograph are more likely to get an interview than plain ones.

Staff in personnel departments are overwhelmingly female, typically single and aged 29 on average, the researchers found.

Their report concludes:

  • ‘The evidence points to female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace as a primary reason for their penalisation in recruitment.’
  • In a warning to pretty job-seeking women, it adds: ‘Attractive females are singled out for punishment.’

A young man waits at a job interview. Attractive men who attach a photograph are more likely to get an interview than plain ones, says research

A young man waits at a job interview. Attractive men who attach a photograph are more likely to get an interview than plain ones, says research

The research, published by The Royal Economic Society, involved sending more than 5,300 CVs for 2,650 job vacancies. For each job, two applications were sent. One contained a photograph of an attractive man or woman, or a plain-looking man or woman. The other CV was identical, but did not contain a photograph.

Nearly 20 per cent of attractive men got an interview.

  • But only 12.8 per cent of attractive women fared as well.

Of plain men, 9.2 per cent got an interview, compared with 13.6 per cent of plain women. Men who did not attach a picture were asked for interview 13.7 per cent of the time, compared with 16.6 per cent of women.

Bradley Ruffle, from the Department of Economics at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, which carried out the study along with the Ariel University Centre in the West Bank, said it was an example of ‘beauty discrimination’.

For the best chance of getting an interview, a woman should send in a CV without a picture, he said.

He blamed ‘the high number of women in human resources staffing positions’. It is their job to look through a mountain of CVs and job applications to decide who should be asked for an interview, and who should not.

When they see an application from a pretty woman, researchers said, many of these staff feel extremely ‘jealous’ of their potential colleague and often reject her instantly.

To check this stereotype, researchers telephoned the companies who were recruiting to find out about the people who screened the candidates. They found that 96 per cent were female, the majority were between the ages of 23 and 34 and nearly 70 per cent were single.

The research was conducted in Israel because it is normal to attach a photograph in the corner of a CV there, unlike in Britain. Professor Cary Cooper, from the Lancaster University Management School, said women in human resources may be trying to help the ‘underdog’.

He said: ‘It could be that they unconsciously think that the less attractive woman is the underdog, and want to give her a chance. ‘They may think to themselves: “These attractive women stand a better chance of getting a job elsewhere. I’ll give the less attractive one an interview.”’


06 April 2011

LEGAL - Australia's Victorian State Parliament to Criminalise Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullies in Victoria will face up to 10 years in jail under changes to stalking laws to be introduced to the State Parliament.

Transcript from ABC TV segment - Victoria to criminalise workplace bullying

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 05/04/2011

Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons

ALI MOORE: Workplace bullies in Victoria will face up to 10 years in jail under changes to stalking laws.

The criminalisation of bullying was prompted by the death of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock in 2009. Brodie took her life after being relentlessly bullied at the cafe in which she worked.

Both employers and unions have welcomed the laws but say there needs to be education about what actually constitutes bullying.

From Melbourne, Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: It was a case which appalled the nation when it came to light.

In 2005 and 2006 Brodie Panlock was physically and verbally abused by three of her coworkers at this cafe.

They even offered her ratsack when they found out she'd attempted suicide, and in the end, she couldn't take the torment any longer.

RAE PANLOCK, MOTHER: What happened to Brodie that was really a very toxic environment that she worked in and it was assault and it was very serious and it can't be tolerated and it's not going to be anymore.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: As a result of the death of Brodie Panlock the Victorian State Government has now introduced some of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country.

They'll apply to any online, or physical harassment, that harms an individual.

ROBERT CLARK, VICTORIA'S ATTORNEY GENERAL: This legislation is intended to send a very clear message that serious bullying is a serious crime that carries a serious jail term.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Those who bullied or aided bullying Brodie Panlock - Nicholas Smallwood, Rhys MacAlpine, Gabriel Toomey and cafe owner Marc da Cruz - were fined over $300,000 under occupational health and safety laws.

Her parents call it a slap on the wrist and say the new laws provide a better deterrent.

DAMIAN PANLOCK, FATHER: If you do it you'll go to jail, if you push it all the way and that's what they did to her, they pushed her.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The former chief justice of the family court Alastair Nicholson has long campaigned against bullying. He says the laws are encouraging, but fraught with legal difficulties.

ALASTAIR NICHOLSON, NATIONAL CENTRE AGAINST BULLYING: It covers a very wide range of subjects, and the normally accepted version of bullying, is a repeated act of harass and cause harm. You then have to ask the question, is it deliberate? And what does deliberate mean?

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Justice Nicholson says preventing bullying it should start in schools.

ALASTAIR NICHOLSON: If you're going to affect this sort of behaviour, you've got to do it early. If you're going to eliminate bullying or make bullying unacceptable as a form of conduct in the schools, it's going to flow over into later life.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: And employer groups have cautiously welcomed the laws.

CHRIS JAMES, VICTORIAN EMPLOYER'S CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY: The Brodie Panlock case was a great tragedy, it was very much at the extreme end of the workplace bullying spectrum it certainly raised consciousness of this issue, it made a lot of employers and employees sit up and take notice of the issue.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Unions say bosses need to take a stand against bullying.

GED KEARNEY, ACTU: We need to see very strong sanctions against employers as well for allowing bullying behaviour in the workplace. We want to see employers make the workplace safe for employees to blow the whistle on that behaviour.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Panlock family knows no laws can help their daughter but they do hope other families now won't have to share their grief.

RAE PANLOCK, MOTHER: Nothing's ever going to bring Brodie back but it is nice to know that something positive for people to remember Brodie for and hopefully she'll make it a lot easier for people who have those same problems.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.