Woman wanted TRUenergy to end harassment

A woman suing electricity retailer TRUenergy for unlawful dismissal says she complained about sexual harassment at the company because she wanted it to do something about it.

A woman suing electricity retailer TRUenergy for unlawful dismissal says she complained about sexual harassment at the company because she wanted it to do something about it.

Kate Shea, the former director of corporate and government affairs, is suing the company - now called EnergyAustralia - in the Federal Court in Melbourne for unlawfully terminating her employment after she reported allegations she had been sexually harassed by then chief financial officer Kevin Holmes and complained of the sexual harassment culture at work.

Ms Shea told the court on Tuesday that after a dinner with colleagues on a working trip to Hong Kong, she went to a bar with Mr Holmes, where he began asking her about the health of her husband, who suffers a long-term illness. She said Mr Holmes then rubbed his hand up and down her back, to the hair on the nape of her neck, and on her thigh.

She said she did not invite or consent to this: "I was absolutely horrified and I was also conscious of the fact I had to continue working with him but it made me feel humiliated."

She later went back to her hotel room, where her husband was sleeping, and told him about the incident.

The next day she told a colleague and a friend about it, and recounted the incident to the company's director of human resources when she arrived back at work the next week.

One of EnergyAustralia's key arguments will be that Ms Shea was not entitled to protection under the Fair Work Act because she did not make the complaint in good faith.

Ms Shea rejected this, saying that this, and other complaints she made about Mr Holmes, based on accounts from other witnesses, were true.

Her lawyer, Charles Gunst, QC, asked her why she raised each complaint. She replied each time: "Because I wanted the company to do something about it."

Ms Shea's employment was later terminated after the company claimed her position had become redundant in a restructuring. She claims she was unlawfully terminated due to her complaints.

The trial continues.

Related Articles