The Federal Court has heard shocking sexual harassment allegations involving habitual dry humping, grabbing of penises and anal penetration on “Gay Fridays” at a Brisbane chicken factory.
Ingham Enterprises, which owns and operates the Ingham’s Chicken plant at Murarrie, is being sued by former worker Richard Jamie Lee Ford, who claims he was sexually harassed by a number of different staff.
Worker warned about ‘Gay Fridays’
The court was told that workers would regularly engage in simulated oral sex, “dry humping” and anal penetration through clothing with fingers and cleaning implements where chickens were being processed.
Former employee Michael Rafferty told the court that when he began working at the factory more than eight years ago, he was warned that he “would be a target on gay Fridays” because he was 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?” Mr 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’
Mr Rafferty described to the court how he was subjected to “dry humping” and witnessed male workers pretend to simulate oral sex on each other and was poked 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 that the alleged misconduct happened on days other than Fridays, and included workers “slapping bums” of other workers.
Mr Rafferty is one of the employees accused of sexually harassing Mr Ford – allegations that he denies.
Simulated sexual behaviour ‘a way of coping’
Mr Rafferty told the court the simulated sexual behaviour was 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
Mr 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 that he was victimised by management when he complained.
According to court documents, Mr Ford alleges his co-workers “dry humped” him, simulated performing oral sex, rubbed his bottom and pulled down his pants when he was hanging birds.
He also claims that his co-workers inserted fingers and a metal pole in his anus.
Company denies allegations
Ingham Enterprises deny the allegations.
According to court documents, the company claims staff took all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
The case continues.
If you have experienced sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation.
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