Office sex couple are no shows at work

The Marsh Ltd workers were unaware that they were being watched. Photo / Supplied
The Marsh Ltd workers were unaware that they were being watched. Photo / Supplied

The two Christchurch office workers who unwittingly put on a public sex show have stayed away from work today.

The employees of insurance firm Marsh Ltd, in the city centre, left the office lights on last Friday, allowing drinkers at a pub across the road to see their hour-long romp.

Photos and footage of their antics soon made its way on to social media and have been broadcast in New Zealand and around the world.

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No breach of privacy here

Bosses at Marsh Ltd have identified the pair and have launched an investigation.

A source today told NZME. News Service that the man involved in the incident is married and holds a senior management position at the firm. He was not answering his work mobile today.

The woman, understood to be in her 20s and recently engaged, has since deleted her Facebook page.

A Marsh employee told NZME. that neither worker was at their desk today.

Employment law experts say the couple could lose their jobs over the incident, while the Privacy Commissioner John Edwards told Radio New Zealand that it was unlikely they would be able to sue for breach of privacy.

Social media backlash

Marsh chief executive Grant Milne did not return calls today. He said yesterday the company was treating the incident "very seriously" but refused to say if the pair had been suspended.

"We're working through the issue with them."

There has been some backlash against those who filmed the incident, with several commentators claiming the couple's privacy had been breached, but Mr Edwards said it was unlikely the police could take action if a complaint was made.

"The people who were watching, we may criticise them for a lapse of decency in taking advantage of that, but it is unlikely there'd be any legal liability for their action," he said.

Employment law expert Blair Scotland said the pair could lose their jobs.

The key element, Mr Scotland said, was whether Marsh believed it, or its brand, had been brought into disrepute.

"A funky modern IT outfit might say, 'Don't do that on other people's desks please, otherwise don't worry about it,' and have no disciplinary action whatsoever. The nature of the employer can play a big part in the outcome," said Mr Scotland, partner at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers.

"It's not necessarily a done deal that they're out the door."

He said it was an "interesting" case, and one that will divide opinion. "Some people will have a bit of a snigger while others might wonder what sort of company allows these sorts of activities after hours. It's not an easy process for an employer to weigh up," he said.

The lawyer also doubted that those who took the photographs or videos and posted them online had broken any privacy laws.

"What's the difference between doing it in a lit building with a pub across the road as opposed to doing it in a park?"

Yells of approval

Patrons of Carlton Bar and Eatery who witnessed the romp said they cheered the couple on. Even the band stopped playing to allow more than 50 pub-goers to take in the show.

"The entire bar united in cheering them on," said one witness on social network Reddit.

"It started with a casual flirt. Then the kiss, grabbing the attention of all. Get it, son! Finally they moved to the back of them room, thinking they were unseen. Off comes the tights, down goes his head. By this stage, 50 bar patrons were pressed up against the window yelling their approval.

"To be honest, after watching them f*** for a good half hour, people started to get bored and drift off back to the dancefloor."

The cheeky band then started again with Kings of Leon song, Sex on Fire.

Some people online are claiming that the man is in his 50s and married with teenage children. Others say the woman was his secretary and "recently engaged".

Witnesses claimed that the pair "celebrated" afterwards with a glass of wine.

"Funniest thing I have seen in a while. Made for a great night," said Ally Hills, who was in the Carlton on Friday night.

Alastair Neville said he was "fortunate enough to be at this historic event".

"I would say 99 per cent of the pub got behind this couple and cheered them on as shit got out of control. The atmosphere was the most positive I've ever experienced at a bar!"

He posted the first photo of the encounter on his Facebook page at 10.59pm on Friday. Mr Neville then gave a real-time commentary of events.

Absolutely no idea

Leah Bates, 25, was up from Timaru, catching up for a drink with a friend, her sister and her partner, when the "show" started.

On her way back from the toilet, she wondered why everyone was looking outside.

"We looked out the window and it was all go. Everyone in the whole place was watching," she said.

"They had absolutely no idea - it was brilliant. We went upstairs and watched from the balcony, and everyone was cheering -- especially when he dropped her on the floor - twice. Everyone just lost it.

"They turned and faced the window and everyone was cheering and waving but they obviously couldn't see us. It was pretty funny, a bit of a show for the night. Everyone was pretty impressed with how long he lasted. He went for ages."

Most pub patrons were using their phones to take photos or film the performance.

Ms Bates now says she feels sorry for the pair and hopes they don't lose their jobs. "They didn't look like a couple. It was way too passionate for that."

- NZME.

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