An audio recording of shocked cadet reporter Amy Taeuber being sacked by Channel Seven has revealed how she was treated by the network after she lodged a sexual harassment complaint against a senior male producer.
Guardian Australia reported last year that Taeuber and her freelancer sister Sophie were sacked after Amy complained the male colleague had allegedly made repeated sexual remarks about her, including that she must be a lesbian because she was a triplet and one in three women were lesbians.
In the audio, leaked to the ABC’s 7.30 program, a Channel Seven human resources manager orders Taeuber’s support person out of the room and then tells her allegations of misconduct have been made against her. The manager tells Taeuber she is immediately suspended and under investigation, and that she must be stripped of her phone and leave the premises.
“I don’t really deserve any of this for standing up and having a problem with someone calling me a lesbian,” the 27-year-old Adelaide cadet tells the human resources manager in the audio. “This is disgusting. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve not done any of this and I’m requesting to have the statement of the person who made these allegations.
“I am being bullied in this workplace and you guys are doing nothing and you guys are in on this bullying now because this is just absurd.”
Taeuber, who did not appear on the 7.30 program, settled a dispute she lodged with the Fair Work Commission earlier this year.
A Seven spokesman said after the ABC report aired that there was an investigation into “alleged breaches of Amy Taeuber’s employment contract”.
“Amy was dismissed because of what she said during the investigation which conflicted with the facts, and not for the reasons suggested,” he told Guardian Australia. “Seven’s HR team did not try to build any case against her and their investigation was not related to any complaint made by Amy about other staff.”
Taeuber had complained that on one occasion a senior male colleague victimised her by making comments of a sexual nature without her present. The remarks were allegedly made in front of several staff and reported to Taeuber by friends.
Her sister Sophie was working on Today Tonight as a freelancer at the time and allegedly also heard the remarks. After the complaint Sophie was also let go.
In the audio, recorded by Amy on her phone to protect her rights, the human resources manager refuses to give her any more information about the allegations.
“OK, so how do we want to plan your exit, Amy? I do understand that we don’t want to make it humiliating for you,” the HR manager says. “We find that instead of wiping phones from Seven’s IT access it’s just easier for us just to relieve people from their phones.”
Taeuber says: “I would like to know who has made these allegations … they’re completely absurd. Oh my goodness is this real?
“I’ve worked so hard to get this job and I know people are just trying to get rid of me now and it’s just really upsetting.”
The Seven Network said Monday’s ABC report was “inaccurate and one-sided”.
“The termination of the news cadets’ employment in Adelaide was for cause and when disputed settlement was reached following a mediation in which the employees were represented by lawyers, as they were all along during their employment claims,” a spokesman said. “A deed of release was signed containing the usual confidentiality clauses, which is why Seven will not be making further comment.”
The Seven network has been plagued by allegations of the mistreatment of female employees, including the high-profile case of executive assistant Amber Harrison who was accused of misconduct after having an affair with the married chief executive, Tim Worner.
Earlier this year the Seven newsreader Talitha Cummins settled an unfair dismissal case she had lodged with the federal circuit court, which alleged she was sacked while on maternity leave.
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