Freehills has rejected claims that former
lawyer Nicole Stransky suffered age
discrimination and bullying during her
two-year stint at the firm from 2006.
Stransky, who is now 50-years-old, told HR Leader that she will take on the top-tier
firm at the Victorian Civil and Administrative
Tribunal, with a hearing scheduled for June.
She claims she suffered age discrimina
tion and was continually bullied and ha
rassed by supervising partners, despite rais
ing the issue with the firm’s human resources
A Freehills spokesperson said the firm is
not in a position to comment on these mat
ters as they will be before the courts, but said:
“We strongly reject any claim that we have
treated her unfairly.”
A qualified psychologist, Stransky had a
successful career in organisational develop
ment in human resources, before being ad
mitted as a solicitor in May 2006 when she
was a paralegal for Mallesons Stephen Jaques.
She began at Freehills in 2006 after being
offered a full-time role as a first year compe
tition lawyer, on a 12-month contract basis.
Her first year at Freehills was wonderful,
according to Stranksy. “It really was fantas
tic. I was very passionate about law. I loved
it,” she said.
But it was in 2008 that Stransky became
concerned that more work was being dis
tributed to younger lawyers and that she was
being excluded from large and complex mat
ters, having a negative impact on her career
“Over several months I kept raising the
issue, very politely, with my coach ... and he
said I'd be allocated to the next merger...that
didn't occur,” she claimed.
“By February 2009 I'd become very con
cerned about my career development as a
“I was humiliated a couple of times in team
meetings when I had to report that I had no
work,” she said. “I felt terribly demoralised,
particularly on days when I had no billable
work at all.”
After raising the issue with human re
sources, Stransky claimed the partners start
ed behaving differently towards her, which
she said constituted bullying and harassment.
“They're very subtle behaviours,” she ex
According to Stransky the HR department
listened to her issues but failed to address
them and follow internal procedures.
It was at this point that Stransky said she
started to become very ill and was diagnosed
as having depression and anxiety.
Stransky said it “went on too long” and
she claims she raised the issue with the di
rector of HR, the CEO and the managing part
ner, but nothing changed.
With the outcome unknown until June this
year, Freehills has said they will continue to
support Stransky “wherever possible” and
confirmed that she receives 75 per cent of her
salary through their salary income protection insurance policy.
“We take great care in providing all our staff with the necessary
support to progress their career,” the spokesperson said.
“We provide all our staff with opportunities to succeed regard
less of their age, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation.”
– Briana Everett