The AFL never expected to come under such fire after CEO Gillon McLachlan and the board took the tough decision to force out two of their most senior executives for having an office affair.
Social media lit-up with fans telling the AFL to mind their own business, Maurice Blackburn employment lawyer Josh Bornstein told them to “toughen up” and now Amber Harrison, Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner’s former lover, has joined the chorus who believe the AFL’s actions have gone too far.
AFL unrealistic: Amber Harrison
“It cannot be a sackable offence for men and women to have relationships in the office. It’s completely unrealistic,” Harrison told the ABC, following a series of tweets on Monday, after she was ordered to pay Seven West Media’s legal costs over her messy affair.
Worner and the AFL executives now join a gallery of shamed CEOs caught-up in a sex scandal including former David Jones CEO Mark McInnes who famously resigned after allegations he sexually harassed a junior publicist and former Energy Australia boss Richard McIndoe who was caught in a similarly hostile sex scandal in 2013.
But the AFL executives are the first to lose their jobs when there has been no suggestion of harassment, stalking or bullying.
Workplace experts say the office affair would be impossible to ban but companies need to be clearer about the rules of engagement in the wake of the AFL and Channel Seven sex scandals.
Half all workers have office affairs
The evidence from surveys in Australia and the US are that about half of today’s male and female workers will have an intimate sexual relationship with a co-worker during their career.