A teacher in Australia who was apparently “poked by students with a penis-shaped vegetable” (a carved piece of celery), sued the school’s principal and the Department of Education for sexual harassment.

The case is of interest (other than the bizarre facts) because it apears from the short news report that the teacher’s claim is not that the defendants knew of such acts or other harassment and took no steps to remediate, thereby creating a hostile work environment, but that the principal ignored the department’s policies (left unidentified) and told the teacher “kids will be kids, you are an adult.”  (The students were, in fact, suspended).

The teacher’s argument, as noted by counsel for defendants, seems to be that defendants “acted as accessories after the fact … a concept entirely unknown under sexual harassment law.”

We do not profess an expertise in Australian law, but if we understand this matter correctly, the teacher’s claim is that liability for the alleged act of sexual harassment by third-parties (the students)  should be imputed to defendants (the employers) even though defendants had no notice or knowledge of it.   In the US, that theory would have no traction.