Blog - Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

What Makes a Good Sexual Harassment Lawyer?

hat Makes a Good Sexual Harassment Lawyer?, great question! Have you been sexually harassed at work? Are you looking at lodging a sexual harassment complaint, but you are feeling overwhelmed with the number of lawyers and representatives offering their help? When running a dispute or claim for sexual harassment, you have the option of representing yourself or seeking representation through workplace representatives and paid agents. However, it is important to be able to recognize whether you are receiving the best possible advice and representation.

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Shot of a male coworker acting inappropriately in the workplace

Sexual Harassment Lawyer or Paid Agent?

A representative is a person who acts on a party’s behalf and this could be a lawyer or a paid agent. Although many people seek sexual harassment lawyers to represent them, they often overlook the diligent and exceptional work of paid agents who specialise in sexual harassment claims. Whether you engage a sexual harassment lawyer or paid agent, both are able to represent you and appear on your behalf under Federal or State jurisdictions for your sexual harassment complaints. Thus, paid agents do the same work as a sexual harassment lawyer and they have the same right to appear as a representative.

Knowledge of Sexual Harassment Laws Across Australia

Sexual harassment is defined under federal and state specific anti-discrimination laws. Depending on which Australian state the sexual harassment occurred in, an employee can lodge their complaint at a federal level in the Australian Human Rights Commission or to their respective state jurisdictions. Each Australian state has their own anti-discrimination commission, board, or tribunal, in which they deal with sexual harassment complaints. However, the legislation and processes differ between each state and there are strict rules about which jurisdiction an employee can make a complaint of sexual harassment to.

Given the difficult in navigating where to lodge your sexual harassment complaint, it is important to consider engaging a representative to assist you in your claim. A representative, whether it be a sexual harassment lawyer or paid agent, are well aware of the different jurisdictions in which you can lodge your complaint. Thus, a good sexual harassment lawyer or paid agent will walk you through all the options available to you and advise you as to where they believe you will most likely succeed in your complaint.

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Australian businessman

Representation Increases Your Chances of Obtaining a Settlement

Another important aspect of representation is that you are gaining access to your representative’s reputation and skills. Although the Federal and State jurisdictions support self-represented individuals, they will not always have your best interests in regard to settling your matter. When a claim is brought to these various jurisdictions, their job is to resolve the matter, whether you are happy with the outcome or not. Thus, these jurisdictions appoint conciliators to your complaint, which act as a mediator between you and your employer. These conciliators are not on your side or on the employer’s side and so they will push both parties into reaching an agreement.  They will advise each party of the strengths and weaknesses in their arguments and consequently, encourage you to settle your claim for possibly much less than what you were anticipating.

A good sexual harassment lawyer or a good paid agent is aware of all these negotiation tactics and they will advise you of all these tips and tricks. For instance, the 2018-19 Annual Report for the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales indicates that only 19.1 percent of cases settle at or after conciliation and only 7.5 percent of cases settle prior to conciliation. This means that there is a total settlement rate of 26.6 percent. A total of 14.6 percent of cases that are resolved at the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, these are referred to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunals.

Thus, the remaining cases are discontinued or withdrawn by the employee or terminated by the Board. Furthermore, Federal and State jurisdictions have published statistics which demonstrate that represented employees or complainants, have a higher settlement rate than those who are unrepresented.

Sexual Harassment
Abusive boss harassing a female colleague in the office while she looks uncomfortable and upset

Representatives Take Care of the Legwork Involved

Given the low settlement rates, it is clearly vital that employees give themselves the best chance of obtaining a reasonable outcome. An employee can do this by engaging a sexual harassment lawyer or paid agent from the very beginning. Not only will they provide you with advice and representation, but they will draft your claim and all necessary correspondence. By drafting your claim properly from the beginning by a professional, it demonstrates that you are taking your claim seriously, you understand the legislation and you can clearly demonstrate how the Respondent has contravened these provisions. Thus, when it comes to negotiating a settlement or remedy, the relevant jurisdiction, the conciliator and the opposing party, will take you more seriously and be more inclined to settle.

Sexual Harassment Lawyer or Paid Agent – What is the Difference?

A key difference between a good sexual harassment lawyer or a good paid agent, is the cost involved in representing you. Sexual harassment lawyers often charge hefty fixed fees or have complex no-win, no-fee arrangements, which result in most of your “win” going to the lawyers in the form of fees. A good paid agent will offer you competitive and reasonable fixed fees or a simple no-win, no-fee arrangement, which is clear cut and does not change whether your settlement is $1,000 or $100,000.

A recent article in The Australian Financial Review (Friday 27/8/2021) Page 31, stated the “the average lawyer worked rate is $487.00 per hour”, Workplace representatives such as AWNA can quote fixed fees or take claims on a no win, no fee basis.

Another key difference between a sexual harassment lawyer and a paid agent is that paid agents usually specialise in these types of claims. Paid agents are usually industry specialists and have irrefutable experience and exposure in sexual harassment claims and anti-discrimination legislation at both the Federal and State levels. Furthermore, given this is a paid agent’s “bread and butter”, they become very well known in the various jurisdictions. This first-hand experience and familiarity with Federal and State sexual harassment jurisdictions, give paid agents a unique edge as opposed to lawyers.

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Don’t suffer in silence

A Whole New Approach – Sexual Harassment Experts Across Australia

A prime example of an experienced and knowledgeable paid agent is A Whole New Approach (AWNA). AWNA is an independent body of workplace advisors and paid agents, which has run and been successful in over 10,000 cases in the Fair Work Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commissions, Anti-Discrimination Boards and Tribunals across Australia.

AWNA and their expert team provide free advice regarding sexual harassment, discrimination and general employment law issues. AWNA and their expert team draft the claims and applications to a Federal Court standard and on their client’s behalf. They run the conciliation conferences, they run arbitrations and have thousands of decisions published with their name on it across various jurisdictions.

Although AWNA would act as your advocate, they provide even handed advice in regard to the prospects of success in your particular case. AWNA’s 20 years’ experience in sexual harassment specifically, means they can represent you and assist you in your complaint Australia-wide. AWNA’s master negotiating skills mean they will endeavor to obtain the best possible settlement for you.

Good Sexual Harassment Lawyer

AWNA can commence to act on your behalf under a simple no-win, no-fee arrangement or for a reasonable fixed fee. In order to discuss potential applications or if you are unsure about whether you are receiving the best representation, please give us a call on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential consultation. I will state again, we are not lawyers, there are many many excellent lawyers who will do a good job for you, we are an alternative for your consideration. How many lawyer firms have dedicated blogs?, web sites focuses on women’s rights? sexual harassment? Not many, we are here for you. We work in all states, Victoria, NSW, Qld, including Melbourne, Sydney