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SBD Global/July 18, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

AFL Criticized For Forcing Resignations Amid Sex Scandal

The Australian Football League is facing "mounting criticism" over a decision to force the resignation of two execs over workplace affairs, with its "hard-line approach going far ­beyond what is considered best practice across the corporate and government sectors," according to Urban & Ferguson of THE AUSTRALIAN. The AFL was accused of "overreacting" in calling for the resignations of AFL Game Development Manager Simon Lethlean and Commercial GM Richard Simkiss, and of "acting primarily to protect its own reputation from accusations it runs a blokey workplace culture." Human resources experts and workplace lawyers described the situation as "highly unusual," given both relationships were consensual and neither man, ­although married, was the subject of any official complaint. Human resources experts were "unaware of any public companies in Australia that had banned workplace relationships." The Victorian and federal public sectors have codes of conduct around the prevention of discrimination, harassment and bullying, but they "do not preclude managers from forming sexual relationships with staff." Int'l law firm Herbert Smith Freehills partner Anthony Wood, a specialist in workplace law, said that the execs "could have potentially had grounds for legal action if the AFL's actions had been prompted by the fact they were married." High-profile feminist Catharine Lumby, an adviser to the National Rugby League on gender issues, launched a "blistering attack on the AFL." Lumby said that employers had "no business getting ­involved in the private lives of employees." Lumby: "For goodness sake, that's no one's business -- it's a matter between the man and the woman" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/18).

GALE NOT INTERESTED: In Melbourne, Warner & Robinson reported AFL side Richmond CEO Brendon Gale "ruled himself out as a candidate for the vacant AFL football operations position." Gale, 48, had been "touted as an ideal replacement" for Lethlean. Gale said, "It's a significant position and there will be no shortage of quality candidates, but I won't be putting my hand up." Experienced club football operations execs Steve Hocking (Geelong), Ameet Baines (St. Kilda), David Noble (Brisbane), Tom Harley (Sydney) and Chris Bond (Fremantle) "head a field" of potential candidates (HERALD SUN, 7/17).
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