In NZ, the Human Rights Commission is something to fear. You can ignore some commissioners, but the HRC can and will run you or your organisation through the wringer. But they have been accused of sexual harassment. In short, they have had a #MeToo moment. One has to question what they were doing hiring an American Intern, since that is the epicentre of the current witch-hunt. Particularly when we have many unemployed disabled people of minority status who are quite interested in discussing their oppression and are very good at being offended by… basically anything.
However, seeing this happen to the relentlessly politically correct and humorless does give me a dark sense of joy.
On Sunday, Stuff revealed a young American woman cut short her internship at the commission after she was groped by the organisation’s REDACTED at a work party.
The commission investigated a sexual harassment complaint against REDACTED, which resulted in disciplinary action. However, three months on, he remains employed there as chief financial officer. He threatened to sue if he was identified.
Human Rights Commission chief executive Cynthia Brophy said she had confidence in her staff.
The commission is the country’s watchdog for unlawful discrimination and racial or sexual harassment. But the former intern said it seemed ill-equipped to deal with REDACTED targeting her, and it didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of the incident.
Diversity Works NZ, a national membership organisation promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces, has criticised the commission over its handling of the incident.
Chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie said it risked a “no confidence vote” following the revelations.
“Businesses and the public will lack confidence in the Human Rights Commission unless it demonstrates it has policies and procedures in place to adequately deal with harassment within its own organisation,” Cassidy-Mackenzie said.
“The most disappointing aspect of the incident is that the young woman involved felt unsupported by her workplace when she reported the incident, and that there was no specific policy in place to deal with the matter.
“All organisations, big and small, have a responsibility to put procedures in place to look after their staff. And this organisation’s core role is to protect the human rights of all people in Aotearoa.”
The commission’s chief executive, Cynthia Brophy, said her organisation did have policies and procedures for internal sexual harassment complaints, which had been in place since 2009.
“This complaint was dealt with in accordance with this policy,” Brophy said.
I suggest that we abolish the entire structure.
The only rights we have are those that do not have a duty associated with them. I can use a hammer, or work land, or play an instrument, or speak, or write, without imposing a duty on anyone else. I can worship God without requiring that others do so. I can love my children without asking that my neighbour do: indeed he may hate my kids.
But saying access to health care or housing is a human right means that there is an obligation on someone to provide it. Moreover, saying that you cannot be offended implies that there is an obligation on all others not to offend you. This is different from criminal actions: if you take my hammer you are a theif, if you acquire my land for public works without compensation you are stealing, legally or not, and if you molest my children crimes you have committed. We have laws about these things. Most of them are ancient.
If REDACTED has sexually assaulted this young women there are courts open. Real ones, not Kangaroo commissions which are probably more corrupt than the average firm.
But his name is now spread through the news.