Harassment can be broadly defined as occurring when a person is subjected to behaviour from anyone (employer, co-worker, licenceholder, punter etc.) that is unwelcome, and offensive.
While sometimes sexual or racial in nature, other forms of repeated, unwanted behaviour at stables, kennels, race meetings or any other racing industry workplace that have a negative effect on a person’s work performance or job satisfaction can also be defined as harassment.
While an offending person’s personal beliefs and attitudes are not the responsibility of their employer - their conduct in the workplace is, and when those attitudes are expressed in a way that is offensive or hurtful to others, this conduct can place both our fellow racing co-workers and the reputation of our industry at risk.
Sexual harassment can include promises or threats linked to sexual activity, using sexual language, making personal comments, text or social media messaging, displaying provocative material in the workplace, unwanted physical contact or persistent, unwelcome social invitations at or out of work.
Racial harassment can include hostility or ridicule based on an employee’s race, colour or ethnicity - such as offensive remarks, unwelcome jokes or nicknames, or drawing attention to speech or other characteristics.
Whether or not the person making such comments claims it’s a joke or that the person receiving such comments ‘is OK about it’, if you see or are subject to these sorts of behaviour in stables, kennels or at the track, call it out. There’s no place for this in racing today or any day. Anyone who persistently makes such comments needs to know it’s not acceptable.
Sexual, racial or other forms of harassment may trigger negative feelings for the recipient. These may include fear, unhappiness or anger. Their dedication to work and desire to stay in the industry will likely also be affected.
Whatever the type, it is the effect on the person the behaviour impacts, that defines whether conduct is harassment - not the intent of the person carrying out the behaviour. If the conduct is unwelcome, or offensive to the recipient… and particularly if the conduct is repeated… the threshold for workplace harassment can be met.
If you are concerned about harassment in your workplace:
- Get advice from our dedicated helpline.
- Report the matter to the Racing Integrity Board or the relevant racing Code (Thoroughbred, Harness or Greyhound)
- The NZ Government’s WorkSafe website has more guidance for employers and employees, including guides to reporting harassment in the workplace.
- Speak with and get the assistance of a trusted friend.
Employees subjected to workplace harassment may raise a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act 2000 (within 90 days), or make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission (within 12 months).
Under NZ law, employers are responsible for setting the examples of what is acceptable in the workplace - and taking reasonable steps to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for all employees.
Failure to do this effectively can lead to financial penalties where an employee takes action against the employer.
Broader consequences of workplace harassment include decreased staff morale and performance, increased turnover of staff, reduced productivity, and a significant risk of reputational damage for individuals, employers and organisations. Proven complaints to the Racing Integrity Board or to the relevant racing Code may lead to penalties or loss of licence for the offending person.
Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination - Employment New Zealand
Sexual Harassment - Worksafe NZ