If conciliation does not resolve the case, a Commission Member may hold a conference or hearing. A Member will usually make a decision or order after a hearing.
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A conference is less formal than a hearing and is held in private. Usually only the people involved in the case can attend. It usually takes about 2 to 3 hours.
The Commission will tell the people involved the date and time of the conference. If you can’t attend, you must ask to change the time or date before the conference, providing reasons.
The Commission Member will send you information about what you need to do to prepare for the conference.
At a conference, a Member can conciliate, make a recommendation or give their opinion about the case.
The Member can also decide to hold a hearing if the case can’t be resolved at a conference.
A hearing is a formal process which can sometimes go for more than one day. The Member hears formal evidence from the people involved in the case, including from witnesses.
The Commission Member will send you information about what you need to do to prepare for the hearing. You can also find more information about this here.
The Commission Member will also tell the people involved in the case the date and time of the hearing. If you can’t attend, you must ask the Commission to change the time or date before the hearing, providing reasons.
The Commission usually publishes the date and time of a hearing on its website, as well as the name or initials of the person making the application.
Members of the public who are not involved in the case can go to a hearing, although you can ask the Commission Member to conduct the hearing in private. The Commission Member will ask you to explain why you have asked for a private hearing and decide if this is appropriate in your case or not.
After a hearing, a Member will make a decision. They may also make an order to stop sexual harassment.
It usually takes between 6 and 12 weeks for the Commission to decide whether orders to stop sexual harassment should be made. If you need an urgent decision to be made, you can ask the Commission for a quick (expedited*) hearing.
Keeping the case confidential
Applying to the Commission starts a formal legal process.
Information that you give to the Commission is usually a matter of public record and may become accessible to other people, including those who are not involved in the case. Hearings are also usually conducted in public because there is a public interest in transparency and open justice.
However, cases made in the Commission often involve sensitive personal information.
If you want to send information to the Commission that you want to keep confidential, you can apply for confidentiality orders.
The Commission can protect confidential information in appropriate cases. For example, a Commission Member can decide:
- that all or part of a hearing must be private, and that only some people can attend
- who can and who must go to a hearing
- not to publish sensitive personal information on the Commission's website
- not to publish some of the evidence or documents from a hearing
- not to share all of the evidence or documents in a case with all of the people at a hearing
- not to publish confidential information in a decision or another document.
Ask to change the time or date
You can ask to change the time or date of a conference or hearing by contacting us in writing. You should ask as early as possible before the conference or hearing date.
You need an important reason to change (adjourn) to a different day or time. You must send a copy of your request to the other people in the case unless it contains sensitive personal information. If that happens, ask a Commission Member if you can keep the information confidential. We usually give a copy of your request to the other people and will consider their views before we decide. We may not agree to your request.
Decisions and orders
A Member makes a decision based on the evidence and facts of the case.
If a Member holds a conference or hearing they will consider whether:
- the worker was eligible to apply to the Commission
- the worker was sexually harassed at work
- there is a risk that the worker will continue to be sexually harassed at work by the person or people named as having engaged in sexual harassment.
The Commission can make an order to stop sexual harassment if these conditions are met. The Commission can also dismiss the case.
When making an order to stop sexual harassment, the Commission can make whatever order it thinks is appropriate in the circumstances.
For example, an order could require:
- a person to stop the sexual harassment and apologise
- someone to comply with, or review, a policy about dealing with sexual harassment
- that workers be given more information, support and/or training.
The Commission cannot order financial compensation.
The Commission cannot make an order to stop sexual harassment unless there is a risk that the worker who applied will continue to be sexually harassed at work.
There might be no risk because:
- the people involved have left the workplace
- the people involved no longer work together and do not come into contact with each other
- appropriate action has already been taken to address the conduct, such as training or counselling.
When a Member makes a decision or order to stop sexual harassment, the Commission publishes its reasons on our website. The decision and order usually identify the names of the people involved in the case and summarises the evidence given to the Commission.