The Human Rights Commission(HRC) is backing Minister of Justice Andrew Little's call for a review regarding internal sexual harassment claims.

The HC confirmed it was reviewing its operations after allegations an intern was groped by a senior staff member at a work party.

An American intern told Fairfax she reported an incident of sexual harassment by a member of the senior executive at the Human Rights Commission in 2017.

She reportedly told Fairfax that the man danced with her and groped her at a work party.


The Commission responded to inquiries by the Herald with a statement from chief executive Cynthia Brophy.

"We are committed to providing a safe environment for our employees and are reviewing our operations to see if there are improvements we should make.

"Our approach to these issues should be victim-centred."

No questions about the alleged sexual harassment were answered.

Little's requested review would inquire and report on the Commission's systems and processes for investigating and resolving sexual harassment claims, whether its governance and management structures and arrangements support the prudent handling of claims and the impact of the organisation culture on claims.

HRC chief Commissioner David Rutherford said the Commission aimed to be an exemplar in the prevention of sexual harassment at work and in the management and resolution of any complaints of sexual harassment.

"As the Human Rights Commission we want to lead the way and demonstrate best practice in prevention and response."

Referring to the recently published sexual harassment complaint, Rutherford said the Commission has confidence that the matter was handled in accordance with Commission policies. "However if there is anything we could improve we want to know about it."


Little today announced that he had ordered a review of the procedures and organisational culture at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, following recent concerns about the handling of allegations of sexual harassment.

"It is vital that New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the Human Rights Commission as New Zealand's authority for dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. I am concerned by recent reported events. An independent inquiry is necessary to look at the Commission's processes and culture.

"I have appointed retired Employment Court Judge Coral Shaw to lead the review," Little said.

The review was expected to be completed by the end of April.