Courier Mail Article – Scientist slaps CSIRO with harassment lawsuit

Posted on March 11, 2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Sexual Harassment is NEVER OK. CSIRO management have failed to act on not only this complaint but a number of others reported to Victims of CSIRO.  Common practice by CSIRO Management is to punish the victim and protect the perpetrator as the perpetrator in these instances is a person in a position of influence and power.  CSIRO management also have a history of failing to report serious criminal conduct to the proper authorities for investigation.

Add to this the fact that the organisation then attempts to coerce employees out of making compensation claims that will potentially expose the sexual harassment of employees and it is difficult to see how this is anything other that CSIRO attempting to protect its reputation at the expense of the victims.

Failure to duly credit employees, particularly female employees on scientific papers as a method of punishment for “failing to know their place” is also not an isolated occurrence within the organisation.

The only way that CSIRO management will change this workplace culture is to hold to account those engaging in such abhorrent behaviour, something which CSIRO management appear to be completely incapable of doing!

Have you experienced sexual assault or harassment at CSIRO?  Please contact us at

Scientist slaps CSIRO with harassment lawsuit

A FORMER CSIRO scientist has made explosive claims of systemic harassment in the government agency, including being hit on the bum with a riding crop and asked if she was a prostitute.

Dr Katherine Morton has alleged she was stripped of her duties, labelled a troublemaker and made redundant after speaking out against the culture of the organisation, and even had her name taken off a major research paper.

Dr Morton is suing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for wrongful dismissal from her position with the organisation in Brisbane in 2016.

In court documents filed with the Federal Court, she says her complaints to six superiors over two years about the “unacceptable workplace behaviours including sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying” were never properly investigated or acted on.

Dr Morton said in March 2015, she told her employer she would be making a worker’s compensation claim due to the ongoing stress but was allegedly told “three months off would not do your career any good” and that she was only making a claim “because she was unhappy with (a) grievance investigation outcome for sexual harassment”.

“The applicant was met with intimidating and coercive behaviour from (CSIRO staff),” court documents claim.

“(The Injury Management Co-ordinator) told her if she did not file a claim with ­Comcare then he would ensure that CSIRO would cover the treatment she needed.”

Dr Morton was granted worker’s comp but it was later rescinded, allegedly due to urging by the CSIRO who claimed the injury was due to reasonable administrative action.

She was later stripped of her position as a team leader before being made redundant in November 2016.

In an interview with The Courier-Mail, Dr Morton said she was still unable to work. The harassment and bullying started six weeks into the job in early 2012 and did not stop until she went on stress leave.

In one incident, a superior allegedly hit her on the bum with a riding crop at work.

“One time we were at a staff dinner and someone said: ‘Women only wear pendants to draw attention to their cleavage. I don’t know why you bother, Katherine, you don’t have any’,” she said.

“There were other times where we were sitting with clients and there would be references to my crow’s feet. On another occasion we were at a conference where someone mentioned a Prada dress I owned and one of the scientists said, ‘How did you get that, were you a prostitute?’ ”

Dr Morton said after finishing at the CSIRO, her name was taken off a research paper and only reinstated after she appealed to the science journal publishing it.

“Sexual harassment is just generally seen as ‘you should toughen up’ and a lot of the workplace bullying is met with the same attitude and that’s terrible,” she said.

A CSIRO spokesman said they take “any allegation of bullying or harassment seriously and has appropriate procedures in place”.

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