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IBM fails to keep Oz harassment case under wraps

Squalid tale to play out in public

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Australia’s Federal Court has ruled against an attempt by IBM to suppress the details of a sexual harassment case against it.

As a result, the accusations by Susan Spiteri, a former sales executive at Big Blue, that she was subject to two years of harassment by her supervisor will play out in public.

According to documents filed in the case, Ms Spiteri was given suggestions like “get those boobies out” to get more sales. She is seeking more than $AU1 million from IBM over the harassment, which she says lasted from 2007 to 2009. Her claim also alleges that the manager put his hand under her dress and would yell abuse at her in the office.

Speaking to ABC radio’s AM program, Spiteri said “My colleagues were all supportive, but they were all too scared to do anything about it.”

The manager left IBM, only to go to work for an IBM customer which the company then assigned to Ms Spiteri.

IBM’s response has been to state that it does not condone harassment of any type, and that it will “vigorously defend” the case.

Maurice Blackburn Siobhan Keating, who is representing Ms Spiteri, says she believes many companies in Australia have good policies but are failing to enforce them. She also claimed other people have contacted the firm with complaints against IBM. ®

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