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Federal Court to hear porn test case

Federal Court to hear porn test case

The Federal Court of Australia will determine whether exposure to computer-generated pornography in the workplace is a breach of the Sex Discrimination Act in a hearing on 1 August. The Federal…

The Federal Court of Australia will determine whether exposure to computer-generated pornography in the workplace is a breach of the Sex Discrimination Act in a hearing on 1 August.

The Federal Court proceedings were launched on 28 July 2010 by air traffic controller Kirsty Fletcher, who alleged she was subjected to extreme bullying and sex discrimination by the management of Airservices Australia (ASA), a government-owned corporation.

Acting for Fletcher, Maurice Blackburn principal John Bornstein said the August hearing will constitute a test case on whether a woman can sue under the Sex Discrimination Act if she is exposed to male colleagues viewing computer pornography at work.

"We believe that a substantial amount of pornographic material was stored on the ASA computer system and that an ASA manager distributed it to other managers and employees regularly over a period of years," said Borstein.

"There is case law establishing that women exposed to pornographic posters at work can pursue claims of unlawful discrimination. We see no reason why the result should be different where the pornographic images and video content are on display on computer screens of colleagues and managers. Our client was exposed to pornographic sexual images while at work. We believe that by allowing this to occur, Airservices breached the federal Sex Discrimination Act."

In addition to the allegations of exposure to pornography, Fletcher is also claiming she was refused access to training and professional development and was abused and belittled for being pregnant.

ASA, represented by Blake Dawson in the Federal Court proceedings, terminated Fletcher's employment "due to an irretrievable breakdown in the employment relationship".

"Over the past 15 months, Airservices has made a number of attempts, without success, to assist Ms Fletcher to return to work through offers of retraining and redeployment," said an Airservices spokesperson.

"Airservices has also made several unsuccessful attempts to resolve Ms Fletcher's claims through mediation processes. Unfortunately, Ms Fletcher has not been willing to engage in these processes."

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