Claims of discrimination or sexual harassment are not all just high stakes for employers.
In a recent Federal Court decision in Dye v Commonwealth Securities Limited (No 2) 1  FCA 407, Vivienne Dye is now faced with the prospect of having to declare herself bankrupt, having been ordered to pay $5.85 million in indemnity costs in relation to proceedings she brought against her former employer CommSec, and others.
In mid-April 2008, it was reported through the media that Ms. Dye had made allegations of being sexually harassed by two senior bank officers at CommSec.
CommSec responded to these allegations by stating that the investigation they had conducted on these claims had indicated that Ms. Dye’s allegations were unfounded.
Subsequently, Ms. Dye commenced proceedings in the Federal Court on the basis that she had been sexually harassed by the two senior bank officers, discriminated against on the grounds of sex and disability, and victimised. Ms. Dye also claimed a breach of contract, breach of industrial legislation, misleading and deceptive conduct, injurious falsehood and defamation.
The Federal Court held that, “…the causes of action Ms. Dye chose to advance [were] each without any factual foundation or legal substance.” As a result of the “falsehood” of the claims made, as described by the Court, Ms. Dye was ordered to pay the legal costs of Commsec on an indemnity costs basis.
Ms Dye has appealed this decision.
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