Sexual harassment at work: $1.3 million in damages

Mathews v Winslow Constructors (Vic) Pty Ltd [2015] VSC 728

There was significant conduct of a sexually explicit nature which Ms Matthew complained of. Initially her manager in response laughed at her, but she was moved and the conduct stopped. However, some 9 months later she was moved back and the conduct resumed including an incident where an employee threatened to “follow (her) home, rip her clothes off and rape (her)”. She complained and later that afternoon answered the phone expecting the Human Resources manager, but was called a very unpleasant expletive. Since that time she did not work and decompensated. She suffered significant psychiatric injuries and a jaw injury from grinding her teeth. Initially the employer defended the claim, but later admitted fault during the trial.

Ms Matthews was 42 years of age at the time of the trial and awarded:

  • General damages: $380,000
  • Past economic loss: $283,942
  • Loss of earning capacity: $696,085

Total $1,360,027

David Cormack – Brisbane Barrister & Mediator

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