16 December 2013


In Ewin v Vergara (No 3) [2013] FCA 1311 Bromberg J has awarded $476,163 damages after finding that Ms Ewin was sexually harassed by her co-worker, verbally and physically, over a period of time.

Ms Ewin claimed that as a result of sexual harassment by Mr Vergara she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric illness. By reason of her inability to work and other disadvantage, she claimed that she suffered and will continue to suffer loss and damage, which she sought to recover through action under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). Section 46PO(4) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) empowers the court to grant relief where satisfied that there has been unlawful discrimination by a respondent.

The FCA found that even though the co-worker was an employee of a labour hire firm engaged as a contract worker by the company where the woman was employed, Mr Vergara was covered by Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) s 28B(6).

The co-worker's acts constituted sexual harassment, irrespective of whether they occurred during working hours, and contravened s 28B(6) because the company office, where both parties worked, provided the requisite nexus to engage the relevant provision.