'Humiliated': Woman wins $200K over embarrassing poster

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·2-min read

A woman featured in a "humiliating" poster at her male-dominated workplace has been awarded $200,000 in damages. 

Reem Yelda lodged a sexual harassment complaint after a photo of her was printed on a poster under the slogan "Feel great – lubricate!". 

In 2015, Ms Yelda was photographed for a spine safety campaign which was used on the A3 poster displayed at Sydney Water's depot in Ryde, in Sydney's northwest, from February to April in 2016. 

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) heard Ms Yelda felt the poster treated her as a "sex object".

She told the tribunal she had worked "extremely" hard to earn respect in the "male-dominated industry" and had been used on promotional material a number of times.

But emails from male colleagues about the poster displayed outside the men's toilets made her feel "disgusted".

She also told NCAT felt "humiliated and ashamed" when she was emailed the poster a number of times. 

The woman has been awarded $200,000 over the poster. Source: A Current Affair
The woman has been awarded $200,000 over the poster. Source: A Current Affair

One email she received from a male colleague said, "Who's the chick in the photo??" while another said "Great advice mate but a bit too much info for me!!!".

A male worker, who only realised the poster was part of an injury prevention program when he read the whole thing, urged Ms Yelda to make a complaint in April 2016. 

Ms Yelda left the workplace soon after making the complaint.

Ms Yelda's sister told NCAT around the time she made the complaint she "appeared sad and withdrawn" and noticed that Ms Yelda's health was deteriorating. 

She added that her sister felt her reputation had been tarnished and the poster would result in co-workers looking at her differently. 

Ms Yelda's sister said the woman's confidence and her physical and mental health declined as a result of the poster and led to "many difficult breakdowns".

Sydney Water, which lost an appeal against NCAT's finding of sexual harassment, said it accepted Ms Yelda suffered some embarrassment and distress.

Vitality Works, which produced the poster, apologised but said there was not a clear link between its breach and Ms Yelda's subsequent medical and employment issues.

Both companies contended damages of about $10,000 was appropriate.

But, having found Ms Yelda a "credible, reliable and honest" witness, NCAT accepted she'd suffered psychological harm and loss of income.

NCAT calculated her loss and damage at $318,280 but could not award more than $100,000 against each respondent.

with AAP

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