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Court dismisses ex-Qantas employee’s sexual harassment claim

written by Naomi Neilson | August 28, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Qantas 787, ZH-ZNN.

A former Qantas customer service manager’s sexual harassment complaints against the airline have been dismissed, likely ending her decades-long fight against the airline.

The Federal Court’s Justice Katrina Banks-Smith dismissed an application brought by Sara Rossi, a former Qantas employee who claimed she did not have the mental capacity in 2008 to enter into a deed that would end a claim for compensation.

Rossi tried to set the deed aside so she could bring an application under the Human Rights Commission Act 1986 alleging she was unlawfully discriminated against between 20 and 33 years ago.

However, Justice Banks-Smith said she was not satisfied Rossi was handicapped because of her mental health at the time.

Although Rossi still contends her alleged treatment was a “grave injustice”, Justice Banks-Smith said this determination could mean Rossi’s complaints “may not be further investigated”.


This is particularly in light of Rossi’s failed attempts to bring an application of unlawful discrimination under the Human Rights Commission Act 1986 to the Federal Court in June 2020.

During that same application, Rossi also failed to establish she had been pressured by her law firm, Maurice Blackburn, to enter into the deed despite her alleged “legal incapacity”.

According to the June 2020 judgment, Rossi alleged she was the subject of sexual harassment by male colleagues that included being ignored, told that women with family responsibilities should not fly and being treated in an “aggressive and intimidating manner”.

During one alleged incident in April 2003, Rossi said a male pilot took hold of a phone headset used to make announcements for the safety system, placed it against his groin “as if it were an erect penis, wiggled it around,” and asked her, “Have we tried this?”

Rossi claimed that between 1995 and 2003, she was allegedly informed to be “personally vigilant” of drink spiking to avoid sexual assaults on layovers and allegedly told not to “complain about sexually harassing behaviour” while onboard a flight.

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