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NewsWorker wins $2.8M payout from Hawkesbury Race Club over...

Worker wins $2.8M payout from Hawkesbury Race Club over micromanaging boss

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A woman has been awarded $2.8million in damages by the Federal Court after being relentlessly ‘bullied and harassed’ by her oppressive boss.

Vivienne Leggett worked in sponsorship and promotions at Hawkesbury Race Club for more than 25 years before quitting due to the treatment she received from the CEO Greg Rudolph.

The court heard Mr Rudolph’s behaviour caused Ms Leggett to develop a significant depressive disorder with anxiety that left her unemployable for nearly six years.

Ms Leggett sued in 2019 and won the substantive payout for the year of bullying she suffered from Mr Rudolph, and for being denied annual leave, long-service leave and commission payments.

Mr Rudolph has since stepped down, citing his desire to work in a number of ‘charity fields’ among other reasons.

Vivienne Leggett (pictured) worked in sponsorship and promotions at Hawkesbury Race Club for more than 25 years before quitting due to the treatment of its CEO - before winning $2.8million after taking the club to Federal Court

Vivienne Leggett (pictured) worked in sponsorship and promotions at Hawkesbury Race Club for more than 25 years before quitting due to the treatment of its CEO – before winning $2.8million after taking the club to Federal Court

The court heard Ms Leggett began employment at the club in 1991 when she was 28 years old, working under then-CEO Brian Fletcher, who described her as a ‘trusted employee’.

She was responsible for bringing in new deals and retaining existing contracts, and was promoted to the club’s sponsorship and marketing manager.

Ms Leggett quit due to the treatment she received from the Hawkesbury Race Club  CEO Greg Rudolph (above)

Ms Leggett quit due to the treatment she received from the Hawkesbury Race Club  CEO Greg Rudolph (above)

Mr Rudolph took over as CEO in May 2016 after Mr Fletcher left to take the top job at the Penrith Panthers NRL club.

The court heard the new chief began bullying Ms Leggett from the outset, believing she was being paid too much.

Mr Rudolph would single the sponsorship manager out, micromanage her tasks, relentlessly email her and denied her basic benefits that every employee was entitled to.                   

Ms Leggett complained to Mr Rudolph about his behaviour about four months after he started the new role, explaining the impact it was having on her mentally and her capacity to do her job appropriately.

She asked him to refer the complaint to Hawkesbury Race Club’s board of directors, before he responded the next day asking her to come to his office to ‘discuss her work performance’, the court decision said. 

Mr Rudolph said she could bring a ‘support person’ to the meeting, before Ms Leggett sent him a medical certificate explaining she couldn’t work for the next week ‘due to work stress’.

The court decision said Mr Rudolph then forwarded her letter to his father-in-law and added: ‘Dropping like flies’.

On another occasion, upon reviewing Ms Leggett’s use of the club’s credit card, Mr Rudolph questioned her spending $15 on parking. The court heard he often held ‘dogged interrogations’ over expenditures.

The court heard Mr Rudolph even questioned another employee about Ms Leggett taking a ‘kickback’, which the employee rejected.

It also heard a phone call she had with board member Sid Kelly OAM where Ms Leggett accused Mr Rudolph of ‘constantly harassing’ her.

‘I feel like he doesn’t trust what I’m doing or what I’ve been doing for 25 years. I feel like he’s just, like, put me in a box and won’t let me do anything,’ she told Mr Kelly.

‘I just can’t work properly because he’s constantly harassing me.’

In another conversation with Mr Kelly, the court heard Ms Leggett said she ‘hadn’t stopped crying for a week’ over Mr Rudolph’s treatment of her.

‘I can’t… cope. I’m constantly, I just I can’t stop crying. I haven’t stopped crying for a week,’ she told Mr Kelly. 

‘I can’t do my work. I’m so stressed. I can’t eat. Can’t sleep. I’m just completely just not myself.’

Ms Leggett began employment at the club in 1991 when she was 28 years old, working under then-CEO Brian Fletcher, who described her as a 'trusted employee'

Ms Leggett began employment at the club in 1991 when she was 28 years old, working under then-CEO Brian Fletcher, who described her as a ‘trusted employee’

The court found the club was in breach of its contractual obligation and the Fair Work Act for not paying Ms Leggett the benefits she was entitled to.

It also ruled that the club was negligent in providing a safe work environment for Ms Leggett.

It ordered Hawkesbury Race Club pay Ms Leggett $2.8million for denied bonuses, payments, leave and future loss of work.

In an interview with Just Horse Racing, Ms Leggett claims she had ‘suicidal thoughts’ because of the ordeal but didn’t have enough money to pay for treatment.

‘Bullying of women in the workforce seems to be rampant, not just in racing,’ she said.

‘I knew straight away that he was a control freak as he very proudly told the admin staff this the first day he started. I thought at our first meeting that he was going to make my life difficult as he told me I was ”a nothing”.’

After resigning in 2019, Mr Rudolph said he was proud of his achievements at the helm of the club.

‘The Board and I are proud of what we have achieved during my term, which has extended beyond my initial three year commitment,’ he said.

‘The time is right for me to complete my business studies and to put some more time into various other commitments I have, in charity fields, for example.’ 

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