1 Mar 2014

Former sex worker wins compensation

1:02 pm on 1 March 2014

A former Wellington sex worker has been awarded $25,000 after it was found she was verbally bullied and sexually harassed by her employer.

The case was heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal and related to the 22-year-old's treatment when she worked at the Kensington Inn during 2010.

The tribunal found brothel manager, Aaron Montgomery harassed the woman between March and June that year.

The woman, who cannot be named, said Mr Montgomery told her he liked to have sex with other workers, and that weekends were his play time.

She said on one occasion he told her he could do what he liked with girls, and most girls would do anything for him anyway.

The woman also said Mr Montgomery was watching her house.

Mr Montgomery denied any wrong doing.

The New Zealand Prostitutes Collectives' Catherine Healy says it is landmark case for the sex worker industry.

She says it could not have happened prior to the law change 11 years ago that recognised sex work as a profession through the Prostitution Reform Act and gave sex workers rights.

Human Rights lawyer Tony Ellis says the $25,000 award shows the woman deserves the same rights as any employee.

The woman at the centre of the case is no longer a sex worker.

In its ruling the Tribunal said sex workers are as much entitled to protection from sexual harassment as those working in other occupations and the fact a person is a sex worker is not a licence for sexual harassment, especially by a manager or employer at the brothel.

It says sex workers have the same human rights as other workers and the special vulnerability of sex workers to exploitation and abuse was specifically recognised by the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.