Channel Seven have suspended two female journalists who complained of sexual harassment. Victimising staff who complain about sexual harassment or other OH&S issues is illegal and ultimate responsibility rests with the directors of the company. Channel 7’s actions point to them either positioning themselves to terminate the two journalists or maneuvering for a constructive dismissal which is also illegal.
This is not surprising as Kerry Stokes’ Channel Seven have form on the board for this type of grubby conduct and are well known to treat staff who upset the management like dirt. There are also similarities to 1997 when Channel Seven sacked six journalists and staff for running a story on corruption by the then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett but more on that in a minute.
The Background – Suspension after complaining about sexual harassment
Amy and Sophie Taeuber are journalists for Channel 7 in Adelaide. On the 20th May 2016 News Corp’s Adelaide paper The Advertiser reported:
ADELAIDE TV journo twins Amy and Sophie Taeuber have been stood down from work pending an investigation at Channel 7, Confidential understands.
It’s believed Amy, a cadet journalist on staff, and Sophie, a reporter who freelances with the station, have both been relieved of their duties while an investigation into complaints about their online conduct takes place.
It’s also understood the twins had made alleged sexual harassment claims in recent weeks, which have apparently since been resolved.
A TV source tells Confidential there has been a “bit of tension” around the Seven offices recently, with some suggesting the twins had been allegedly “victimised”.
“It doesn’t send the greatest message to other staff … I thought they were really brave actually standing up and saying something … about what they felt was harassment,” the source says.
Both Amy, who worked for three years at Seven’s flagship current affairs show Today Tonight and was hired as a cadet journalist a year ago, and her sister declined to comment to Confidential.
Seven News Director Graham Archer described the issue as a private staff matter while a spokeswoman said “…proper process must be followed and as such no comment is appropriate.” (Click here to read more)
The retaliatory complaints routine is a well worn path by companies and why would there really be a need to suspend them “while an investigation into complaints about their online conduct takes place”. What makes it worse is that the “online conduct” complaints against Amy and Sophie are so close to when they made the sexual harassment complaints at Channel 7 that it makes it obvious the two are related. But Seven management don’t care and must want it that way to send a message.
The message Channel 7 management want to send to female staff.
Every female working at Channel 7 across the country would know by now what has happened to Amy and Sophie and they would all be worried. The message 7 management has sent to all staff is loud and clear.
1. Don’t complain about sexual harassment otherwise you’re gone and your career is over.
2. Don’t complain about anything and don’t embarrass the owners Kerry and Ryan Stokes.
A constructive dismissal is when someone is not sacked but resigns because of the pressure and/or harassment they receive at work and this is probably what Channel Seven are aiming for. But it is also illegal and you can make an unfair dismissal claim at the Fair Work Commission although most people do not know.
The chances of Amy and Sophie getting their jobs back with Channel 7 are almost zero and even if they do get their jobs back the harassment and bullying by management will more than likely mean they will ultimately resign.
Amy and Sophie should be congratulated for sticking up for their rights up against the gutless bullies masquerading as Channel 7 management. I wonder how many others suffer at the hands of the grubby Channel 7 management.
Channel 7 and the 1996 sacking of Today Tonight staff in Melbourne
On the 14th May 1996 a story exposing corruption by the then Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was meant to go to air on Channel Seven’s Today Tonight current affairs programme. At the last minute it is was cancelled by senior Channel 7 management which more than likely means Kerry Stokes cancelled it. Stokes had been given plenty of financial favours by Kennett. One deal allowed Stokes to avoid paying millions of dollars of tax and Stokes owed Kennett a favour or two.
The Today Tonight host Jill Singer passed out live on TV that night from the stress and ended up in hospital for a few days. Channel 7 owner and Chairman Kerry Stokes was in a sexual relationship with Jill Singer at the time but never visited her in hospital and never spoke to her again.
The SMH reported:
“This time, Stokes’s personal and professional interests intersected: Today Tonight’s Melbourne presenter, Jill Singer, who collapsed on air that night suffering a stress-induced migraine as she explained the decision to pull the story to viewers, was dating the network’s owner. He neither visited her in hospital nor spoke to her again, the relationship another example of the collateral damage left behind by Stokes’s restless ruthlessness.” (Click here to read more)
The following day the public outcry of a cover-up forced Channel 7 to broadcast the show and it went to air that night 15/5/1996. Chairman Kerry Stokes said the story had been cancelled because Channel 7 lawyers had not approved the show. Not long after Stokes sacked all the journalists and staff associated with the Kennett story including Jill Singer.
In 1997 the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast a story that covered the Today Tonight scandal which totally contradicted what Kerry Stokes said. Below I have edited the Four Corners show with the focus on the Today Tonight scandal and Jeff Kennett’s multi-million-dollar financial favours for Kerry Stokes.
(Click here to watch the full show on the Four Corners website)
Widespread sexual harassment in the TV and Entertainment industry
Sexual harassment and assault in the television/entertainment industry is known to be widespread with a prime example being Rolf Harris. Harris not only assaulted children but it is well known he also assaulted and groped TV personalities, radio hosts and make-up ladies etc. I recall one entertainment veteran estimating that there would be at least 30 men like Rolf Harris in the Australian entertainment industry.
The big concern for television owners like Stokes is possible lawsuits and class actions which Rolf Harris, Churches and others are facing now. That is why Stokes would be keen to sweep any sexual harassment complaints under the carpet and make sure that similar complaints don’t happen.
Media companies are meant to be the fourth estate keeping everyone honest. But when they act like Channel 7 above it is blatantly clear they aren’t the fourth estate and that is a major reason mainstream media companies are contracting at such a rapid pace.
I am sure there will be more on this story in the near future so I will follow-up.
Kangaroo Court of Australia is an independent website and reliant on donations to keep publishing. If you would like to support the continuance of this site, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal or go to the donations page for other donation options. (Click here to go to the Donations page)
If you would like to follow this website, you can by email notification at the top right of this page and about twice a week you will be notified when there is a new article.
Thank you for your support.