Dismissal for harassment upheld

Talitha WolfeSound Telegraph

A City of Rockingham employee was not unfairly dismissed after he was sacked for sending sexually explicit texts - including allegations of a photo his “erect penis” - to younger female co-workers, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.

Colin Reguero-Puente was dismissed from his position as Building Services co-ordinator on December 6 after an investigation by the City upheld allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Several complaints were made by female co-workers claiming Mr Reguero-Puente sent them unwelcome emails and text messages after hours and on weekends.

It was further alleged Mr Reguero-Puente had taken cash from a property owner and failed to account for the money.

The Commission heard that the 45-year-old frequently sent unsolicited emails and text messages to female colleagues and told one female colleague “you look hot”, “I’d like to see you in those heels only” and “can you leave your underwear, a bra or something, in my car next time?”

Mr Reguero-Puente filed an unfair dismissal claim with the Commission on December 27, saying the texts were welcome and reciprocated and the other allegations could not be substantiated because there were no witnesses.

Commission deputy president Melanie Binet said Mr Reguero-Puente’s key defence was the women “should have told him to stop”.

With tendered evidence indicating just that, Ms Binet said “it made no difference”.

“Young women should not have to tell their older superiors that they do not want to be sent salacious texts during or after working hours, nor have comments of a sexual nature made about them, or be directed towards them in their workplace,” she said.

The City of Rockingham reaffirmed the dismissal decision and said it had a zero tolerance policy towards bullying and harassment in the workplace.

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