This case and subsequent appeal ruling raises far more questions regarding just what is an employer’s business, and what isn’t, than it resolves.
So, Carlie Streeter had a “sexual romp” in a hotel room bath at 2:00am with two male fellow employees. Big, fat, hairy deal, I say! Surely, what any individual does in their own time – unpaid by the employer – has no bearing on whether the individual makes a good employee or not.
The so-called ‘offence’ occurred on a weekend, after a staff Christmas party in premises not belonging to, or paid for by, the employer. Ms Streeter may well have been overly intoxicated, but again, so what? Her body doesn’t belong to Telstra and her time is her time. What she chooses to do with that time, unpaid by Telstra, is her business, and whatever consequences transpire as a result, are her responsibility to address. The simple fact that other female colleagues took offence to her dalliance is their business, and again, nothing at all to do with Telstra.
I question why Telstra was involved in the first place? Claims of sexual harrassment are contentious and divisive, to be sure. I know. I’ve been called as a witness in a case of harrassment, male on female. Often times, the claims tend to be inspired by personal biases, rather that outright harrassment, sexual or otherwise. I tend to think that if the so-called offended women who accused Ms Streeter of sexual harrassment were truly offended, then they ought to have taken up the issue with Ms Streeter, rather than running ‘tittle-tat’ to their collective employer with nasty tales. I’d even go so far as to suspect they were miffed at missing out on a little slap-and-tickle themselves. People have sex. Indeed, they have sex in odd places, at odd times, with odd people, but it happens. Alcohol often plays a part in spur-of-the-moment liasions. It’s pretty much a commonplace event. My advice would be ‘Fuck off!’ or better still, ‘Get a life!’. Sexual Harrassment? Jealousy, more likely.
As for Ms Streeter supposedly having lied during an internal Telstra investigation into a matter which was of no concern to Telstra whatsoever, Good for her, I say. I’d have done precisely the same, although, were I to be sprung having a little rumpy-pumpy with a couple of female work-mates, it wouldn’t be in a bath. Then again, were I so intoxicated as to be inclined to have sex in a bath, it would probably be in my dreams given that I’d be unconscious. That aside, champion effort, Ms Streeter! You go for it, girl! As for Telstra…..jam it up yer clacker!! If that’s the style of management Telstra employs with it’s staff, I’d be thinking long and hard about continuing to work for Telstra, or become an anti-social non-team player to avoid instances where I might be caught off guard in my off-duty hours. What a boring life that would be.
An extremely dangerous precedent has been created with this ruling. Seems as though all employees of employers who act shit-scared of sexual harrassment claims, spurious or otherwise, should be seriously worried. On weekends, I’d suggest staying at home if you intend writing yourself off and/or fornicating in the bath tub.