A second scandal involving a female employee at Channel 7 has raised questions about the workplace culture and treatment of women within one of Australia’s largest media organisations.
Just months after a messy legal battle between the network and former employee Amber Harrison, who was dismissed after having an affair with its CEO Tim Worner, it has been revealed a cadet journalist was dismissed after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a senior male colleague.
The ABC has released a recording which appears to show Seven employing questionable tactics against cadet Amy Taeuber.
Ms Taeuber had reportedly made an allegation of sexual harassment against a male colleague, however the recording instead reveals her dismissal after unspecified bullying allegations are levelled against her.
In the recording, Ms Taeuber’s support person is asked to leave the room, questions about the source of the allegations go ignored and she is told she cannot touch company IT while being escorted out of the building, even to log out of personal accounts including Facebook – which many journalists use for professional purposes.
Under the Fair Work Act, employees are permitted to have a support person of their choosing present at meetings as part of any performance management processes.
Channel 7 has also been publicly criticised for not putting its allegations to Ms Taeuber before the meeting in which she was dismissed – effectively removing any right of reply.
Adding to the scandal for the broadcaster are reports by the ABC that former HR staff said, “what happened to Ms Taeuber was part of a systemic culture at the network”, whereby misleading allegations are deliberately dredged up to justify the removal of employees who lodge specific complaints.
For its part, Seven has denied the ABC’s allegations, but has not issued a public statement on the matter.
The use of hastily constructed allegations in a bid to justify the sacking of an employee is not new, with the Fair Work Commission recently finding biopharmaceutical giant CSL had wrongfully dismissed an employee for selling sex toys as a side business.
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