Thursday, December 9

ACC Employee Shocked Man She Complained Still Working With Survivors

Warning: this story contains details of sexual harassment

An ACC employee says she was sexually harassed by a male colleague, but after she complained, the corporation allowed her to continue working with survivors of sexual abuse.

ACC Sign in to Wellington

Photo: RNZ // Angus Dreaver

RNZ understands that several other women in the same ACC office also felt harassed by the man.

A woman, whom RNZ agreed not to name, filed a formal complaint about him in July. He said he had not been given information since he filed the complaint and that he still did not know if his employer was conducting an investigation.

After asking about the status of her report last week, she was told that HR had sent her report, identifying it, to the man without telling him that several other women who she believed would also file reports had withdrawn.

“I felt like the rug had been ripped from me. I was very surprised they didn’t tell me because that was the basis for my consent. It mattered a lot that they didn’t complain.”

“I got an email last week saying they had sent him the complaint and talked to him. And that was it.”

The woman said her manager called her Monday night, after RNZ asked questions about her case, to suggest some possible options to keep her safe at work, including blocking the man’s internal calls and restricting her access inside the building. to make sure they couldn’t. Meet in person.

ACC declined to answer questions from RNZ about how it was handling the matter.

“ACC does not comment on employee-related matters. ACC has clear processes for responding to complaints of this nature that prioritize the safety, well-being and privacy of our people,” it said in a statement.

The woman said her coworker started sexually harassing her last year after an office shakeup left them sitting close to each other.

“It started out as little comments that I wasn’t really sure were harassment. I wasn’t sure if I was being sensitive or not,” she said.

It wasn’t until later that the harassment really started, he said.

“He started asking me pretty gross questions. Like how often did I masturbate and all that kind of thing.”

The harassment continued on and off work for eight months, he said.

“Initially, I was wondering if he hadn’t realized I was asking inappropriate questions or comments until I openly said, ‘You know, this is sexual harassment.’ He said, ‘No, it’s not. And even if it was, you could. handle it ‘. “

In March, he sent her an unsolicited message in Microsoft Teams, seen by RNZ, which made her uncomfortable.

Believing that others would think she was bitter about work-related problems, the woman was reluctant to complain.

The man was later appointed to work with victims of sexual abuse. He moved to a different part of the office and the harassment stopped, he said.

But a month later, she learned at an office function that several other women had also felt sexually harassed by the man.

“That’s when I went to see my manager.”

Her manager supported her in filing a formal complaint with Human Resources, who interviewed her in July, but had not heard anything until RNZ contacted ACC this week.

He had no idea if the man was being investigated or had faced any consequences and was still working with survivors of sexual abuse.

“I would like the ACC to acknowledge the seriousness of the complaint and tell me if it is really investigating.”

The woman’s mental health had suffered as a result of the harassment and the agency’s response, leaving her feeling unsafe at work, she said.

“I’ve had 36 days of sick leave since all this started. I’ve been hospitalized three times with suicidal thoughts. Every time I think about going to the office I get palpitations.

“My savior was the lockdown. Now we have Level 1 pending and I have that panic coming back. I don’t feel safe at all.”

The woman said her manager had been very supportive, allowing her to work from home and see her multiple times.

She understood that two other women had complained about the man’s behavior to their managers, but their complaints had turned up nothing.

“If they had been treated professionally, I would not have been next in line for their harassment.”

She was “appalled” by the way ACC handled her report and the idea that the man was still dealing with survivors of sexual abuse.

The woman, who was a survivor of sexual abuse and had a sensitive claim with ACC, felt that the man should no longer work with survivors until an investigation is conducted.

“It bothers me.

“Knowingly putting them in that position where you’re reading all these psychological reports that, like, it just horrifies me. I feel like ACC doesn’t care.”

Where to get help:

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