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A woman who worked at a bread and pizza manufacturer in Melbourne’s north suffered sexual harassment after a male colleague stared at her breasts not her eyes, a tribunal has found.
Sudesh Kumari, who worked for Della Rosa Fresh Foods, told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal this year that her colleague Munir Hussain “made her feel uncomfortable”.
“Her complaint was that when Mr Hussain talked with her, he did not look her in the eye when talking but looked in the direction of her body,” the October 25 order states.
Instead of looking at her face, he stared at her breasts on August 11, 2017.
“Any reasonable person would have anticipated that Ms Kumari would be offended, humiliated or intimidated if a male fellow worker stared at her breasts rather than her face when he talked with her,” tribunal member Louise Johnson said in the order.
“Even in cultures where direct eye gaze is itself disrespectful, it is never the correct response to direct one’s gaze at a woman’s breasts.”
Ms Kumari said she’d felt uncomfortable talking to him before, but only complained after she tried to raise it with him and he “responded angrily towards her”.

 

She reported the incident to her manager, who did not believe her.
Ms Kumari was then asked to attend a meeting with the managing director in his office, who questioned how Mr Hussain could stare at her breasts while she had a uniform on.
She was told to take annual leave while Mr Hussain was not. He was also spoken to in a familiar setting about her complaint, not in the boss’ office.
Ms Kumari’s job was moved from working at the bakery site to the pizza topping site as a “precaution to prevent it happening again”, the order states.
She went home to discuss it with her husband before going on leave in September.
The next month, she met with another colleague at the topping site about the job but she wanted to go back to the bakery. She never returned to work.
In her January 7, 2018 complaint to the Fair Work Commission, she said her manager told her he did not like Indians.
The company terminated her employment on February 8, 2018.
The tribunal found after Ms Kumari made the sexual harrassment complaint she was subjected to discrimination due to her gender, unfavourable treatment and victimisation.
Ms Kumari has claimed compensation for the company’s breach of the equal opportunity act but evidence and submissions did not address if any damages should be awarded.
The tribunal has ordered a time extension for submissions to be made.
© AAP 2019