We wish to respond to a recent media article referring to incidents of inappropriate conduct by two people in our firm.
We deeply regret the distress experienced by the two women involved. No one should have to go through those experiences. We offered support to both women at the time, and we have conveyed to each of them that our offer of support stands.
While some of the details as reported in the article were inaccurate, we absolutely accept there was misconduct. In both cases, we investigated promptly, took action swiftly and acted in support of the women involved.
In relation to each case:
- In respect of Ms Thatcher, we acted as soon as she raised the conduct with us and Ms Thatcher’s version of events was accepted in that process. The male lawyer involved was formally disciplined and asked to apologise. At the time, we did not share with Ms Thatcher the disciplinary outcome for the man which, in hindsight, we regret not doing.
- In the separate case of the conduct by the male partner referred to in the article, as the nature of his conduct became clear during our investigation, his position at the firm became untenable and he resigned ahead of a formal removal process commencing. We briefed all partners and our Brisbane staff of the circumstances of his departure. The woman involved remains a valued employee of the firm.
Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace and we have been clear with our partners and staff that it has no place at Allens.
In recent years, we have strengthened internal processes for the handling of allegations of misconduct and implemented the mandatory disclosure of personal relationships in the workplace where there could be a power imbalance.
When we become aware of misconduct, it is investigated swiftly and we work to ensure any action taken is fair, proportionate and takes into account the wellbeing and wishes of the aggrieved person. Misconduct can result, and has resulted, in people exiting the firm.
We want everyone who works at Allens to have a fulfilling experience, characterised by respect, fairness and equal opportunity. Sadly, that experience has not always been the case for every person at Allens over our history. Some conduct in the past did not meet the standards we expect and, in some cases, was not handled in the manner it would be now.
We are a firm that listens, learns and strives to improve. We remain absolutely committed to making our workplace a safe and respectful environment for all our people.