ABC News Australia

Amber Harrison says Seven case a ‘wake-up call’ for women experiencing workplace bullying, discrimination

18 July 2017

Former Seven Network executive assistant Amber Harrison.

 

Amber Harrison has slammed “the boys club” in corporate Australia after losing an ugly court battle with the Seven Network and being ordered to pay the media giant’s legal bills.

Key points:

  • Ms Harrison admits she made mistakes, claims case sends message to other women
  • Seven took Ms Harrison to court after she broke confidentiality agreements
  • Ms Harrison tells AM that she stood little chance against the legal might of Seven

The former executive assistant, an ex-lover of Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner, remains defiant despite being castigated by a New South Wales Supreme Court judge for breaching confidentially agreements with Seven.

Speaking to the ABC’s AM program, Ms Harrison admitted she had made mistakes but claimed the case sent a message to other women who feel they have been bullied or discriminated against in the workplace.

“At some point the boys club that dominates and defines Australian business are going to wake up and realise they are no longer in control,” Ms Harrison said.

“My case is a wake-up call for them and I hope it changes things and changes culture and how individuals are treated against the system.

“In the end, the truth has a habit of coming out and in this case I think it will.”

Seven took Ms Harrison to court after she broke confidentiality agreements not to speak about her ill-fated two year affair with Mr Worner and to return sensitive documents she had taken after leaving the media company.

Harrison says she fought ‘to the bitter end’ to resolve matter

 

Justice John Sackar criticised Ms Harrison for not reaching a deal with Seven while an opportunity existed and said she provided no admissible evidence to support her case.

Mr Harrison said she would comply with the gag order and would return any Seven documents still in her possession to the company.

Ms Harrison told AM that she stood little chance against the legal might of Seven, which waged a successful battle to force her to comply with the confidentiality agreement and gag order issued earlier this year.

“The problem with that ruling is that you’re up against people who thrive on operating in this system,” Ms Harrison said.

“There’s no doubt that I made mistakes, but the difference is that I was just one person. I fought to the bitter end to resolve the matter.

“The court system does not serve an individual, it serves a company. I took the path that I took and no, I don’t regret that.”

Office romances should not be a ‘sackable offence’

Despite the affair with Mr Worner, which sparked the acrimony with Seven, Ms Harrison said it was not practical to ban office affairs — even ones with senior executives.

Tim Worner

 

“It cannot be a sackable offence for men and women to have a relationship in the office,” Ms Harrison told AM.

“It’s completely unrealistic.”

Speaking in a broader context within the terms of the gag order, Ms Harrison was also critical of the decision by two AFL senior managers to resignover inappropriate office affairs.

“In some cases it really works, so we cannot have my case or other cases like the AFL being the new mark, that no-one can have relationships in the office.”

While Ms Harrison is preparing for potential bankruptcy, the ABC understands Seven is unlikely to force her to pay its full costs as long as she complies with the gag orders.

Seven has welcomed Justice Sackar’s orders to order Ms Harrison to pay their costs.

“Ultimately, Ms Harrison put on no evidence in support of her claims, which the Court held was because no such evidence existed,” Seven said in a statement.

While Seven works to repair the reputational damage from the Amber Harrison affair, especially in relation to concerns about the judgement of Tim Worner, the broadcaster maintains that it “looks forward to putting the matter behind us.””