Australia: Air traffic control boss 'Mr Mintie' stalked trainee, asked for kisses - - PressFrom - Australia

Australia Air traffic control boss 'Mr Mintie' stalked trainee, asked for kisses

04:51  15 october  2019
04:51  15 october  2019 Source:

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A senior Airservices Australia manager who dubbed himself “Mister Mintie” repeatedly stalked and sexually harassed a female air traffic control trainee, including asking if he could attend hospital when she gave birth.

The man’s conduct is outlined in a series of emails from 2016 included as part of a compensation claim lodged in the Federal Court by law firm Maurice Blackburn, which is representing the woman.

The woman, who worked in Melbourne, was unable to complete her training and developed significant health problems due to her treatment by her former boss, who no longer works for Airservices.

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The revelation of the legal action comes two months after Airservices announced it had engaged the nation's former sex discrimination commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, to conduct an extensive review of its workplace culture.

Airservices Australia is a statutory federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of air travellers. When it announced Ms Broderick's review, Airservices said it had "zero tolerance" for all forms of workplace harassment.

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The female trainee was bombarded with emails from her boss in which called her his “fav girl"and asked for a "private dance". He signed off some emails “amore per sempre” (love always).

He also repeatedly asked the female trainee to provide him with a photo of her before he went on holiday to Italy. When the woman told him  'f--- off, that is not on”, he later that day emailed to apologise:

“Hey, sorry if I acted like a goose today about the photo and things. I promise tomorrow I’ll be back to being a gentleman. But boy, did you look pretty today … I’ve never believed about pregnant women ‘glowing’ until now.

“See you tomorrow – can’t send amore tonight because my heart rate is still up…”

While the manager focused his attention on the young woman, he spent less time with other trainees he was responsible for educating and monitoring.

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On the manager’s last day of work before his Italian holiday, he left a Minties wrapper from a sweet he had given the female trainee weeks earlier under her windscreen wiper. It had a love heart drawn on it.

He continued to email the woman while he was on holiday, signing off many emails with “MM”, which was shorthand for "Mister Mintie".

Upon his return his attention became physical, with requests for hugs, kisses, directions for her to sit closer to him and him trying to press his fingers to her lips.

In one exchange, he said: “I clean shaved for you”.

The man, who was married, also insisted on giving the trainee a bracelet he bought in Italy. But he told her he really wanted to buy her underwear.

During a discussion about her parental leave arrangements, the heavily pregnant trainee had to physically insist her manager remain across the table. He responded by saying: “What? Do you think I’m going to molest you?”

The man later in the same meeting asked if he could come to hospital when the trainee gave birth. He was told “most certainly not” by the younger woman.

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A consultant’s report into the man’s conduct delivered in early 2017 confirmed he had stalked and sexually harassed the female trainee by requesting physical contact, asking for dates, taunts of a sexual nature and asking intrusive questions about her personal life and body.

Airservices Australia's decision to engage Ms Broderick for the workplace culture review come after former Federal Court judge Tony North, QC, warned public safety could be at risk because of the severity of its workplace problems.

Mr North's opinion was sought by the air traffic controller's union.

His opinion that public safety could be at risk is strongly disputed by Airservices.

Since the announcement of Ms Broderick's review, a small number of senior Airservices managers decided to resign or retire.

The case involving the female trainee and Airservices Australia will go to trial at the Federal Court in Melbourne in April next year after mediation talks failed.

The woman’s lawyers are seeking compensation from AirServices Australia for alleged breaches of the Sex Discrimination Act through the senior manager’s harassment.

They also accuse the federal agency of breaching the terms of an agreed return to work plan after the woman returned from leave.

In its defence filed in the Federal Court, AirServices has admitted many of the facts pleaded in connection to sexual harassment. However it has said it was not responsible for the manager's emails when he was holidaying in Italy.

In regards to alleged breaches of the Disability Discrimination Act, AirServices has taken a more aggressive stance, stating that many of the woman's claims did not have a proper legal basis.

Maurice Blackburn principal Kamal Farouque said Airservices was relying on a highly technical statutory defence which if accepted would mean thousand of public sevents would be prevented from suing the Commonwealth for damages under the Sex Discrimination Act.

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