Melbourne-based pizza giant Della Rosa Fresh Foods has had to pay a worker $53,000 after a co-worker stared at her breasts

A pizza delivery man from a Melbourne supermarket has been convicted of paying a former employee more than $53,000 after she was sexually harassed by a male colleague who was staring at her breasts.

Sudesh Kumari was working at Della Rosa Fresh Foods – a pizza maker whose products are available in major supermarkets including IGA, Coles and Woolworths – in 2017 when she says a male colleague was staring at her breasts while speaking to her.

She said the interaction made her feel “uncomfortable, objectified and demeaned” and that she suffered humiliation, stress, pain, suffering and loss of joy and life.

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“I felt disrespected and that upset me,” she said, according to hearing papers from the Civil and Administrative Court of Victoria.

When Kumari reported this to her supervisor, she suffered a second blow and was racially discriminated against when she was told, “You’re Indian, I don’t like Indians, they always cause problems”.

Previously, Kumari said she felt part of the team but the racist comments changed everything.

After her initial complaint, Kumari said she was forced to take annual leave during the investigation, although she wanted to save her leave to visit family in India.

On the morning of her return to work, she was transferred against her will from the company’s bakery to a new location preparing pizza toppings.

Kumari refused to accept the transfer and after not returning to work, her employment was terminated in February 2018.

She also said she was the only person required to visit Della Rosa director Emilio de Lorso’s office, while the colleague she was complaining about was not forced to attend. She said she felt management didn’t believe her claims.

Judge Louise Johnson accepted Kumari’s evidence and dismissed Della Rosa’s contention that any fine should not exceed $500, arguing that such a small award would trivialize the offending conduct.

“The initial breach by Ms. Kumari’s colleague could have been easily and effectively mitigated, but was made worse by the behavior of Della Rosa’s management,” Johnson said.

In awarding her compensation this week, Johnson found that Kumari had faced sexual harassment, victimization and unfavorable treatment because of her race.

Kumari was awarded $38,000 in compensation for non-economic losses and $15,241 for economic losses.

Deadly brown snake found in company printer.

Deadly brown snake found in company printer. Melbourne-based pizza giant Della Rosa Fresh Foods has had to pay a worker $53,000 after a co-worker stared at her breasts

James Brien

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