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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Compensation for man harassed by boss

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 10th April 2010

A Christchurch man who was sexually harassed by his male boss has been awarded $2,000 in compensation by the Employment Relations Authority.

Christopher Heeney was employed at Eco Frame and Mirror in September 2008. He complained to the ERA about two incidents, where he says his boss Graeme Patching touched his buttocks and his penis.

He says in one instance Mr Patching walked behind him and brushed past him, touching his buttocks, and then told him “that was an accident by the way. I wouldn't want to be getting a letter in the post”.

The framer says on another occasion Mr Patching asked him whether he had his measuring tape on him and put his hand inside his tool pouch. Mr Heeney said that when Mr Patching's hand was inside his tool pouch, he felt Mr Patching's hand brush his penis. He stopped wearing his tool pouch the following day.

Mr Heeney says Mr Patching also made an inappropriate comment involving sodomy, while helping him put in a wall plug while they were hanging mirrors at a retail outlet.

Mr Heeney ultimately resigned after an argument about using his mp3 player at work, where Mr Patching says the worker yelled repeatedly "so it's okay to touch up your workers but it's not okay to wear your earphones".

Mr Patching denied any sexually harassment, saying any contact was completely accidental. He told the ERA he apologised to Mr Heeney after he was sent a letter of complaint, then "undertook to address the close proximity of the work stations to prevent accidental contact between employees going about their tasks".

The ERA ruled the buttock brushing, tape measure incident and verbal insinuations amounted to sexual harassment, which sat "towards the bottom end of the scale".

It ordered Mr Heeney be paid $2,000 in compensation and $270 in costs.

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