An Australian company called Telstra has just won a court case for the right to fire (or sack, Nigel) a female employee who engaged in a little extracurricular activity. Quick background, Telstra is a telecommunications company in Australia and provide cable, interweb, phone, and mobile phone service. One of their offices had a late Christmas party last year. The February party (we always thought they were ahead of us) ended with a spot of booze-fueled debauchery. Next thing you know, a young woman is asked to explain her actions.
This woman evidently is accused of sexually harassing her female coworkers by doing it on the floor next to her sleeping comrades. And also harassed another coworker by having some sort of shower-centric pants-off dance-off with two male coworkers.
So, the woman evaded questions in the inquiry and was eventually fired for being less than honest. A Federal Court decided that it was okay to let her go given the circumstances. Her lawyer said that the decision was ‘un-Australian.’ Which we assume is akin to saying that something is un-American only in Australia.
This does raise a few interesting questions:
1: Would anyone have told the truth under these circumstances?
2: Did the guys get off with a slap on the wrist because they told the truth?
3: Where does a company’s jurisdiction end?
1: No. No one would have told the truth immediately. Having a coworker (or HR bozo) prod around about your sex life is weird. And sometimes if you believe something hard enough it has to make it so. Right? We’ll be damned if ‘honesty is the best policy’ isn’t the answer to another of life’s problems.
2: Of course the guys got off, they’re guys (buh dum pah!). It seemed like most sexual harassment firings are due to a guy getting a little too aggressive with one of the ladies. Maybe the dudes were honest (or possibly bragged) about it.
3: Gray area alert. Off-site meetings, parties, and travel shenanigans can lead to lawsuits for the company. So, maybe they do have some say about what goes down. For instance, most corporations have to pay out large life insurance, um, payouts if an employee dies or is dismembered while traveling for the company. And we’re willing to bet that if a male employee exposed himself to a female employee when they bumped into each other at the mall that he could get fired. Though it all does sound a little un-Australian.