A New Zealand prostitute has won a six-figure payout settlement for sexual harassment complaint against a brothel owner.
In what New Zealand media reported as a “world first”, the Human Rights Review Tribunal awarded the 22-year-old sex worker NZ$25,000, the settlement is an important reminder that all workers, regardless of the type of work they did, have the right to freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, said Michael Timmins, director of the office of human rights proceedings.
“We encourage all business owners and employers to ensure that they understand and respect those rights.”
The commission said the settlement was intended to compensate the woman for emotional harm and lost earnings. Her identity, and all other details in the case, remained confidential.
The case was filed with the human rights review tribunal which had earlier ruled that sex workers were protected against sexual harassment under the Human Rights Act.
“Context is everything. Even in a brothel, language with a sexual dimension can be used inappropriately in suggestive, oppressive or abusive circumstances,” the tribunal said.
“It follows that it is not possible to ask whether a ‘reasonable sex worker’ would find the behaviour unwelcome or offensive.
“If in a brothel language or behaviour of a sexual nature could never be considered unwelcome or offensive, sex workers would be denied the protection of the act.”