Real estate text: ‘Give me your number or I’ll rape you’
Real estate agency McGrath has launched an urgent investigation into a historic complaint from a staffer who claims she was fired after she complained a colleague sent her a sexually violent text message threatening rape.
The woman, who had worked at the company for 10 years and was in her 40s when she received the apparent unsolicited text at a 2013 Christmas event at a regional McGrath franchise, said she was so horrified by the message she left the party in tears and complained to the office manager the next day.
She claims she was sacked several weeks after the festive break to find a letter on her desk advising she had been dismissed.
The salesman from the regional office is still working for the company.
The review into her complaint comes in the wake of the sacking of another McGrath staffer, head of sales Adrian Bo, whose contract was terminated following an internal probe revealed by The Daily Telegraph into claims he allegedly asked a younger male colleague, "How many c. ks have you had in your mouth?"
Bo strongly denies making the comment.
The woman in the 2013 incident, who The Daily Telegraph has chosen not to name, said, "The text said, 'give me your number or I will rape you', yet he was texting me on my number."
"I was mortified when I read it and left the party … I'm ashamed to say I cried, I was so shaken up by it; the most terrifying thing for a woman other than death is rape."
"I'm disgusted at the level of sexual harassment that happens in the company."
"How was this man who sent me the violent and sexually threatening text allowed to continue working at the company for years when the women who complain are almost instantly dismissed?"
"There is an underbelly culture of sexual harassment at the company. It needs to change and unless women speak up, it won't."
The Daily Telegraph understands the woman contacted McGrath yesterday to complain about the former colleague, a successful salesman, still works at the same office selling real estate in the same capacity.
McGrath confirmed it was reviewing the case into the woman's complaint over a text message sent by a staffer who remains at the firm.
"We confirm that an inquiry is now underway regarding misbehaviour in 2013 at an independent McGrath franchise," McGrath spokesman Tim Allerton said.
"The matter was handled at the time by the franchisee and today has been passed on by the complainant to the company."
"We are undertaking an urgent inquiry into the incident and how it was handled by the franchisee."
On Tuesday night McGrath loyal lieutenant Mr Bo's contract was terminated and the next day his name was scrubbed from the agency's signage in Double Bay, as staff were warned in an email by the chief executive Geoff Lucas they would face disciplinary action if they spoke publicly about the inquiry.
In the stern email sent to staff on Tuesday night, Mr Lucas directed staff members not to speak to external parties about the internal HR investigation in a bid to draw a line under an alleged complaint that he asked a younger colleague the lewd question three weeks ago.
Married Mr Bo vehemently denies the conversation took place.
Mr Lucas told staff in the email seen by The Daily Telegraph: "If you are approached by any external party seeking comment or information with respect to the investigation, you are directed to provide no comment …
"If any employee provides comment in such circumstances, it may result in disciplinary action."
It goes on: "Any conversations about this investigation, its recommendations or findings, are unhelpful and hinder our ability to move forward as an organisation".
The email says that the investigation has been "stressful for a number of people".
A spokesman for McGrath said Mr Lucas was restating the company's code of conduct in his email in relation to whistleblowers and media policy.
"It is our policy to protect those who are involved in confidential complaints and processes to handle them," Mr Allerton said.
"The staff email relates specifically to the current issue we have dealt with."
The demise of the company's lieutenant Adrian Bo, who has served 25 years at the helm of McGrath's Coogee branch, comes despite his denial to The Daily Telegraph that he asked a much younger male staffer, "How many c … ks have you had in your mouth?"
"McGrath Limited … has confirmed that one of its contractors and interim co-head of sales, Adrian Bo, has left the company following an inquiry into claims of alleged misconduct against him by a staff member,'' the statement read.
"After a complaint was made, McGrath carried out a thorough and independent inquiry to investigate the claims against Mr Bo, who denied them and took leave during this process. As a result of the inquiry, Mr Bo's contract has been terminated, effective immediately."