Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 7 - Charlie’s photos

Charlie is employed in a government sector agency.  Like the other employees in his section, Charlie has a staff locker. On the inside of the locker door, along with a calendar and two photos of his car (his pride and joy), he has three nude photos from a sports calendar. These photos are, of course, not visible to anyone except when Charlie opens the locker door, and then they are visible to anyone who happens to be in the vicinity of the locker. Madge is a colleague of Charlie’s and on more than one occasion she has been exposed to the sight of the photos, when Charlie opened his locker while she was at hers, which is only a couple of lockers away from Charlie’s. Madge finds the photos offensive and feels humiliated and intimidated by the sight of them.

Madge mentions this to her manager, Theo, and she asks him to do something about it. 

How should Theo respond to Madge’s request?

  1. He should explain that it is really none of Madge’s business. The photos are private, and, anyway, come from a calendar on sale in every newsagent. As offensive as Madge might find them, they are on the inside of Charlie’s private locker, and that is the end of the matter.
  2. He should approach Charlie, and ask him to take care that the photos are not on display when Madge is likely to see them.
  3. Charlie should be directed to remove the photos. Whatever Charlie might think they have a serious effect on some people. The presence of the photos is totally inappropriate.
  4. He should direct Charlie and Madge to discuss the matter and settle it to their mutual satisfaction.
  5. Madge should be assigned a locker in a location where she can’t see Charlie’s open locker.


About the possible answers

Re: a.

Although the photos are certainly Charlie’s, they are not his business alone when an employee is exposed to them and offended and humiliated by them. When someone is exposed to them in this way and is reasonably offended and humiliated by them, then the situation constitutes sexual harassment, and must be dealt with accordingly.

Re: b.

No, just concealing the photos from Madge is not enough. When someone is exposed to sexually explicit photos in this way and is reasonably offended and humiliated by them, then the situation constitutes sexual harassment, and must be dealt with accordingly.  Charlie should be instructed to remove the offending photos and counselled.

Re: c.

THE BEST ANSWER FOR YOUR WORKPLACE?

This is correct. When someone is exposed to sexually explicit photos in this way and is reasonably offended and humiliated by them, then the situation constitutes sexual harassment, and must be dealt with accordingly.

Re: d.

This is not a matter for negotiation. When someone is exposed to sexually explicit photos in this way and is reasonably offended and humiliated by them, then the situation constitutes sexual harassment, and must be dealt with accordingly. Charlie should be instructed to remove the offending photos and the reasons why.

Re: e.

Taking this step is not enough, and it fails to recognise the situation for what it is.When someone is exposed to sexually explicit photos in this way and is reasonably offended and humiliated by them, then the situation constitutes sexual harassment, and must be dealt with accordingly. Charlie should be instructed to remove the offending photos and told the reasons why.


 

Anti-Discrimination Act 1977

Division 2 – Discrimination at work

Meaning of ‘sexual harassment’

(b) the person engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the other person in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

22B – Harassment of employees, commission agents, contract workers, partners, etc.

(2) It is unlawful for an employee to sexually harass a fellow employee . . .

 

Government Sector Employment Act 2013

Ethical Framework

Integrity

(a) Consider people equally without prejudice or favour.

Trust

(a) Appreciate difference and welcome learning from others.

(c) Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles.