The Federal Court has heard shocking sexual harassment allegations that happened on “Gay Fridays” at a Brisbane chicken factory.
The allegations involved habitual dry humping, grabbing of penises and also anal penetration.
Ingham Enterprises, which owns and operates the Ingham’s Chicken plant at Murarrie, is being sued by former worker Richard Jamie Lee Ford.
Ford claims a number of different staff sexually harassed him.
Worker warned about ‘Gay Fridays’
The court heard workers at the factory regularly engaged in simulated oral sex, “dry humping” and anal penetration.
The sexual acts happened through clothing with the use of fingers and cleaning implements where chickens are processed.
Former employee Michael Rafferty told the court when he started working at the factory more than eight years ago, staff warned him he “would be a target on gay Fridays” because he is well-presented.
“It’s a pretty significant thing, isn’t it, for a young man to walk into a workplace and be told to watch out for Gay Fridays?” Ford’s barrister Sean Riedy asked.
“Yes,” Mr Rafferty replied. “Yes, it was awkward.”
‘I don’t think anyone who did it had homosexual tendencies’
Rafferty described how co-workers subjected him to “dry humping” and he also witnessed male workers simulate oral sex on each other.
Additionally, he said co-workers poked him in the anus through his clothing with a metal pole.
“I don’t think anyone who did it had homosexual tendencies,” he said.
“It was horseplay.”
He said the alleged misconduct happened on days other than Fridays, and included workers “slapping bums” of other workers.
Rafferty allegedly sexually harassed Ford, which he denies.
Simulated sexual behaviour ‘a way of coping’
Rafferty told the court the simulated sexual behaviour is a way of coping with working in a distressing environment.
“People would do anything for a distraction… from the horrible job they had to do, it was horrible,” he said.
“I still think, ‘How did I do that job?’ … you were (putting) poor little chickens into shackles.”
Legal action launched under human rights laws
Ford first launched the legal action in the Federal Court in 2017 under human rights laws.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, he also claims management victimised him when he complained.
According to court documents, Ford alleges his co-workers:
- “dry humped” him,
- simulated performing oral sex,
- rubbed his bottom
- and also pulled down his pants as he hung birds.
He also claims his co-workers inserted fingers and a metal pole in his anus.
Company denies allegations
Ingham Enterprises has subsequently denied the allegations.
According to court documents, the company claims staff took all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
The case continues.
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