Former executive loses sexual harassment appeal

by Chloe Taylor16 Dec 2014
A former executive of EnergyAustralia who unsuccessfully sued the company for unfair dismissal, claiming she had been a victim of sexual assault, has lost her appeal against the decision.

Kate Shea appealed against the original ruling. Her allegations that she was sacked after complaining that she had been sexually harassed by a colleague were rejected in both cases.

After Shea’s allegations were initially dismissed in court, she was ordered to pay her former employer’s legal costs.

Her appeal against the decisions was dismissed this week after a Federal Court found that no errors were made in the previous case.

In a joint judgment, Justices Steven Rares, Geoffrey Flick and Jayne Jagot said that the original trial judge’s reasoning that Shea “was not… an impressive, persuasive or reliable witness” was rational, agreeing with the original decision to reject Shea’s claims.

They supported the original findings that Shea made serious allegations of impropriety but lacked sufficient evidence to support them.

According to EnergyAustralia, Shea lost her job in 2012 when the company restructured. The organisation claimed that she had fabricated the “juicy” allegations in order to humiliate her former employer.

Shea claimed that EnergyAustralia’s former managing director had sexually harassed a female employee at a staff party, had behaved in a sexually predatory manner towards staff and had commented on female workers’ breasts.

She also alleged that there was a “culture of sexual harassment” at the company.

Shea was originally offered $440,000 to settle her claim, which she refused. The company later offered her $200,000 as an employment termination payment, but Shea refused the payment again in order to continue her legal battle for reinstatement. 


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