Lawyer accused of sexual harassment over explicit texts

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A senior Melbourne lawyer has been accused of sending sexually explicit photos of himself and continuous texts to a female colleague.

The lawyer is now facing accusations that he sexually harassed the woman over a period of seven months, but a spokesperson for the firm said the women’s claims were ‘categorically denied’. 

According to The Age, the firm maintains that the text-message relationship was inappropriate but consensual.

“I find you seriously hot … I'm thinking about you and your legs and everything else and it's driving me mad,” he allegedly wrote in a text message

“Every time I look at you during the day I go crazy… I want your body.”

The woman claims that if she didn’t respond, he would become aggressive and abusive.

“Why are you f-----g ignoring me? I'm your boss. Show some respect,” he allegedly said in another text.

The woman is seeking damages and compensation, represented by Maurice Blackburn principal John Bornstein.

This is a case that has featured a barrage of sexually charged, explicit material being sent by a senior person to a younger employee, including X-rated photographs,” Bornstein said, describing the alleged harassment as ‘relentless’.

“It is behaviour that is at the extreme end of sexually harassing behaviour and it has no place in a law firm, footy club or any other workplace.

“We still have enormous work to do in getting organisations to confront wrongdoing … and where the wrongdoing is by someone highly regarded or valuable to the organisation, it is no excuse for failing to hold people to account.”

The woman claims she complained about the harassment to her practice manager and to one of the firm’s principal lawyers, after his behaviour, which started off as a sexually suggestive look, got progressively worse.

Her claims will now be referred to the Human Rights Commission.
 
  • David Gray on 22/01/2016 2:48:11 PM

    If my colleagues over the years thought this was OK it would have caused me to have concerns over their fitness to practice. To my mind this kind of conduct says more about a person's integrity than their tax returns!!

  • Suzana Adad on 22/01/2016 9:22:56 AM

    I strongly agree. Most of us employed people probably know that the employer employee relationship can be an unlevel playing field at the drop of a hat, and this case appears to be just that. Given the unchecked power the regulator seems to have, together with the victim probably paying the Law Society membership fees could be the receipe to at least get some some naming and shaming out there for the rest of us to see and use to gauge a healthy work place.

  • Suzana Adad on 21/01/2016 11:56:22 AM

    Here here. I agree. I wish I could get the woman I saw and heard at Court to come forward and defend herself. Even if it is the regulatory body, something very different and carries with it the shame of being discarded rightly or wrongly It appears to be a severe form of collusion and bias from what I heard. Myself and about 20 other people would support her.

  • Name and Shame on 21/01/2016 11:46:02 AM

    As a partner of the firm, consent whether given as alleged or not, is not a relevant factor in my view. The fact that the firm has not issued an apology but is publicly backing the partner is precisely what is wrong with this situation. The message the firm is sending to all young female lawyers (or male for that matter) is if allegations are made, we will back and support the perpetrator rather than the victim. That in itself is a failure to provide a safe work environment. So many firms are quick to advertise their employer of choice for women type of awards. Where is the naming and shaming of this firm? Shouldn't young lawyers know so they can make informed choices about where to work?

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