16 Jul 2013

Firm ordered to pay teen over sex harassment

10:12 pm on 16 July 2013

A Christchurch engineering firm has been ordered to pay a teenager nearly $39,000 after the young man was sexually harassed in his workplace.

The Employment Relations Authority has ruled against Kevin Hyde Engineering Ltd over its treatment of the 16-year-old who was in his first fulltime job.

In its ruling, the authority said the young man became the subject of sexual language, which his employer characterised as banter. Comments to him included asking if he had sex with his cat, if he was gay, and being told that Friday was the day to perform a sex act on his co-workers.

The ruling said the young man eventually left his job after his boss said if he didn't like it there, he should go.

The authority ordered Kevin Hyde Engineering to pay him $38,895 in damages, including unpaid wages and holiday pay, lost remuneration and compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

But the teenager's lawyer, Peter Moore, said on Tuesday he doesn't think his client will see any of that money.

"I would be happily surprised if any of it gets paid. I remain hopeful that we can get something out of all this, even if it's just a negotiated settlement. But at this point, certainly that's the direction that everything points in - that that's it."

Mr Moore said the teen has suffered depression and post-traumatic stress from the harassment and just wants to move on with his life.

The company, which is no longer trading, denied the claims but did not turn up for the hearing. However, Kevin Hyde has told Radio New Zealand he is shocked by the decision and will appeal against it.