Formers Woolworth Blacktown manager sues

A Sydney woman suing Woolworths for $1.3 million in a sexual harassment suit told a court she put on weight and dyed her hair because she did not want ''anyone to touch me or look at me again''.

Alysha Wilkie, 34, broke down in tears in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on Thursday after she was forced by Woolworths' barrister to give details of her suicide attempt in September 2012.

She said she had taken enough prescription medication and alcohol to kill herself after the harassment drove her to ''rock bottom'', but it ''obviously didn't work''.

The former night duty manager at Woolworths Blacktown is suing Woolworths for alleged harassment by her former boss between February and May 2011.


Mrs Wilkie's barrister, Paul Blacket, SC, asked: ''You had blonde hair [in 2011]. You now have dark hair. Is there any particular reason for that?''

''I've put on weight and changed my hair … because I never want this to happen to me again,'' Mrs Wilkie replied. ''I don't want anyone to touch me or look at me again.''

Steven Clark, a former store manager who has since been promoted, allegedly made lewd comments to Mrs Wilkie, including that she must have ''thrown her leg over the wrong way'' when she was late to work. In separate incidents, Mr Clark allegedly called Mrs Wilkie repeatedly on the night shift when he had been drinking and asked her to work an irregular shift that required her to ''consolidate'' Easter eggs while he watched her bend up and down.

The alleged harassment is said to have culminated in May 2011, when Mrs Wilkie was ''dragged'' into Mr Clark's office and assaulted.

Woolworths and Mr Clark, who appeared briefly in the witness box on Thursday, deny the allegations.

Security footage shows Mr Clark pulling Mrs Wilkie into a room off a corridor on the day of the alleged assault. The office had no cameras to record what happened next.

''He rubbed his hand up and down my entire forearm,'' Mrs Wilkie says in court documents. ''I was panicking. I felt physically sick.''

Mr Clark ''continued to tighten'' his grip so she could not leave.

Mr Clark denied on Thursday it was his ''normal practice'' to handle women in the manner shown.

''Why not?'' Mr Blacket asked.

''It can come across as sexual harassment,'' Mr Clark said.

He denied stroking Mrs Wilkie's arm and said he was careful not to make inappropriate comments.

Part of Mrs Wilkie's $1.3 million damages bill is for the distress, humiliation and aggravation because of Woolworths' alleged handling of her complaint.

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Alysha Wilkie arrives at court. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Alysha Wilkie arrives at court. Photo: Anthony Johnson

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