Home' Spa and Clinic : SPA Vol-70 Winter 2017 Contents BUSINESS
Ayoung male apprentice hairdresser
has been awarded $30,000 in
compensation after his complaints
of sexual harassment and victimisation
were substantiated by the NSW Civil and
While this decision was made in
relation to a hairdressing salon, employers
in the aesthetics industry at large may
unfortunately face similar issues.
"The apprentice had completed just
three months' ser vice. However, the
Tribunal found that the harassment and
victimisation had a `significant impact' on
him," says Michelle. She continues:
The apprentice submitted that the
treatment he received in the salon by both
a principal of the business and a colleague
were unwanted and unwelcome. He claimed
that he was subjected to actions of a sexual
nature including unnecessary touching.
Such actions included:
• The principal of the business stroking
the apprentice's palm when he gave him
money to purchase goods for the salon
• A male colleague requiring the apprentice
to hold his hand unnecessarily when he
was showing him how to blow dry hair
• A male colleague putting his hands
around the apprentice's waist
• A male colleague unnecessarily brushing
against the apprentice
• A male colleague slapping the
apprentice's bottom with a ruler, and
attempting to provoke a reaction from
the apprentice by stating "You should
slap me on the bum. I like being slapped
on the bum".
There had also been spoken comments
of a sexual nature including:
• A male colleague referring to the
apprentice as "his bitch"
• A male colleague stating that they were "like a
gay couple" and "close", in front of customers
These words and actions caused the
apprentice humiliation and distress, and
exacerbated his depression. The apprentice
complained about the treatment, expressly
alleging to the principal of the business
that it was sexual harassment (as well as
complaining of underpayment and bullying).
The responses of the principal included:
• Rationalising the behaviour by stating
"I'm sorry about what happened before.
Hairdressers are like racehorses. They're
all equal, but they need a pat on the bum
to go faster".
• Normalising the behaviour by stating "I
used to work in a restaurant. All the boys
used to grab me by my boobs."
• Terminating the apprentice's employment
The tribunal found that these responses
were tantamount to victimisation.
The apprentice was awarded $30,000 in
compensation, which needed to be paid by
the employer within 21 days of judgment.
What are an employer's legal
obligations regarding sexual
An employer may be held to be legally
responsible for acts of sexual harassment
performed by employees in the workplace
under the doctrine of "vicarious liability".
To avoid liability, an employer must take
all reasonable steps to prevent sexual
harassment from occurring in their
workplace. Such reasonable steps include:
Implement an appropriate sexual
harassment policy, and communicate its
contents to all employees upon induction
into the business. The policy should be
monitored and amended as necessary.
Take appropriate action upon receiving
complaints of sexual harassment, including
conducting a thorough workplace
A workplace free from sexual harassment
helps to maintain productive workplace
relationships and can improve employee
As demonstrated by the case outlined
above, because the apprentice was subjected to
sexual harassment at work, and his concerns
were not addressed by management, his
depression and anxiety was exacerbated and
consequently, he could not perform at work.
This particular apprentice has decided
to leave hairdressing and work as a barber
instead because of his fears about the
environment in a hairdressing salon.
The salon has lost in terms of the
productive work it could have gained from
the apprentice, as well as time and money in
What your business
needs to know about
An apprentice hairdresser was recently awarded $30,000 in compensation
after his complaints of victimisation and harassment were substantiated
by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Michelle Blewett* explains
the red flags to watch for in your business.
40 | SPA+CLINIC
Links Archive SPA Vol-69 Autumn 2017 SPA Vol-71 Spring 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page