Crude jibes claim costs bar $26,000

Last updated 18:28 08/01/2013

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The Christchurch bar forced to pay $26,000 in compensation and lost wages to a female employee who quit after being sexually harassed by her manager says the man no longer works there.

The female employee was forced to resign as bar manager after repeatedly being harassed and bullied by her manager, who other bar staff say was known for his ''off-colour comments'' and crude jokes.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ruled that the woman was unjustifiably dismissed and has awarded her $16,640 in lost wages,  $8000 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings, and $1408.05 in recompense for unpaid wages.

The woman began working at the bar in February 2011.

Four months later, she complained to management that one of the senior managers was acting inappropriately and had harassed a 14-year-old employee.

Her complaint was laughed off and she was painted as a troublemaker by the bar's management.

The manager she had complained about then began hassling her in other ways.

''He was micro-managing me and had basically changed my role from bar manager to cleaner. I felt belittled as I could not do anything my job entailed without [his] approval first. I had no say as to what happened in the bar any more and no matter what I did it was always wrong,'' the woman told the ERA.

Eventually she felt she had no option but to resign.

ERA member Michael Loftus said there was no doubt the woman had been sexually harassed. The comments made by her manager were of a sexual nature, unwelcome and offensive.

''Employees should not be subjected to such behaviour and when they raise their concerns those should be acted upon. Here the evidence is that the response was inadequate,'' Loftus said in his decision.

''While the sexual harassment ceased, the evidence is other forms of harassment commenced. An employee should not be subjected to such behaviour, especially from her manager.''

The employee sought to have her identity suppressed by the ERA but wanted the bar named.

The bar argued that it should have its identity suppressed as the manager at the centre of the allegation had since departed and it had taken steps to improve its procedures.

The ERA decided to give both parties and all the witnesses in the case name suppression.

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- The Press

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