Cloisters’ Sheryn Omeri, who is dual-qualified and practices simultaneously at the Australian Bar as well as the English and Welsh Bar, successfully represented an applicant before the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division) in Sydney.
The applicant brought the claim for sexual harassment and sex discrimination against both her employer, Sydney Water, a significant state government employer, and a work health and safety sub-contractor, Vitality Works. The latter had featured the applicant’s image on a health and safety poster under the slogan “Feel great – Lubricate!” displayed without her consent in a near-exclusively male-dominated workplace. The Tribunal had previously found that this amounted to both sexual harassment and sex discrimination. On Friday, 30 April, following a lengthy damages hearing at which Sheryn appeared on behalf of the applicant in February, the Tribunal awarded the applicant the maximum available damages under the applicable statute, against each of Sydney Water and Vitality Works. In addition, it made an award of aggravated damages against Vitality Works on the basis that its apology for the design and display of the poster had been “full of weasel words” and trivialised what had occurred. The case has attracted much media attention in Australia, shining a light, as it did, on sexism in the public service.
Due to its importance, it has received significant press attention.