Christchurch real estate agent sexually harassed and bullied female colleague
A Christchurch real estate agent sexually harassed and bullied a female work colleague, a disciplinary tribunal found.
The New Zealand Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal found the man's conduct to be "disgraceful", it said in a decision made public on Thursday. The names of the man, the complainant and the agency they worked for were suppressed by the tribunal.
The woman was employed as a personal assistant to the defendant, a licensed agent, and began work in July 2014.
She shared an office with the man and an associate salesperson.
Between August and September 2014, the man made offensive personal and sexual comments about and in front of the woman.
He called her "s... tits", "fat", "ugly", and said she had a "pregnant belly".
On separate occasions the man commented on the assistant's underwear and zipped and unzipped his fly in front of her.
He talked about wanting to masturbate and said he found the woman's friend on Facebook sexually attractive.
Another employee said the man made inappropriate and sexual comments to her.
The woman told the director of the agency about the man's behaviour on September 16. The director spoke to the man the following day, but he returned to the office and made an offensive comment.
The woman said she would not work with the man any longer, but agreed to stay on after he phoned to apologise.
A month later, after the woman complained again, the agency moved her to another office but the man continued with his offensive behaviour.
The man resigned from the agency on December 2014 and the woman left the company in January 2015.
She took legal action and reached a confidential settlement with the agency.
The tribunal understood the woman also reached a confidential settlement with the man after a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.
The agency director brought the charge of misconduct to the disciplinary tribunal.
At the hearing in September last year, the man said his comments were part of the office culture at the agency, which witnesses supported.
The tribunal said that was irrelevant. It was concerned with his conduct and whether he had breached professional standards.
The man's lawyer argued the incident was an employment issue which had been resolved and was not serious enough to involve the regulatory body or warrant a charge of misconduct.
The tribunal found the man's sexual harassment and bullying of the woman amounted to disgraceful conduct.
Another hearing by the disciplinary tribunal will consider a penalty and whether the man should be stripped of his real estate agent's licence.