Oracle Australia has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay former employee, Rebecca Richardson, $18,000 for damages as compensation for breaching section 28 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
Presiding judge, Justice Robert Buchanan, told the court Oracle was vicariously liable for the conduct of its employee, Randol Tucker, who was named in the sexual harassment case brought on by Richardson.
But the $18,000 Justice Buchanan ordered Oracle to pay Richardson is a far cry from the $450,000 Richardson was originally seeking when the case was filed with the Federal Court in 2010.
"Most of the claim for damages concerned alleged future economic loss, said to arise from Oracle’s conduct towards Richardson after she complained about Tucker’s conduct. The essential elements of this claim were not established.," Justice Buchanan stated. "I am satisfied that Richardson did suffer both physical and psychological consequences as a result of Tucker’s conduct. Accordingly, compensation by way of damages must be assessed and awarded in her favour taking those matters into account."
Justice Buchanan rejected allegations that Oracle victimised and breached its employment contract with Richardson.
"In my view, Richardson resigned her employment voluntarily. It was not established that Richardson was demoted, that Richardson would have suffered in her employment if she had remained with Oracle, or that Oracle was responsible for any financial loss to Richardson arising from her change of employment," he stated. "Nor was it established that various complaints made by Richardson about the physical and psychological consequences for her of a change in her employment were ones for which Oracle could be held responsible."
Richardson and Tucker were working together at Oracle on a project for ANZ bank in 2008.
Richardson claimed Tucker made inappropriate comments such as “Rebecca, you and I fight so much, I think we were husband and wife in our last life,” and “How do you think our marriage was? I bet the sex was hot.”
She also claimed, but Tucker denied, he said: “We should go away for a dirty weekend; I love it when you’re mean to me, makes me think you’d be hot in bed and I love your legs in that skirt. I’ll be thinking about them wrapped around me all day long.”
Oracle handed Tucker a warning following Richardson’s complaint and he wrote an apology via email, but Richardson said it wasn’t sincere. She also claimed she was unfairly demoted after making her complaint, while Tucker still retained his consulting manager role.
Tucker’s lawyer, Anna Perigo, previously said the incidents were nothing more than ‘light hearted banter’ between workmates.