What a win it was! The woman who has caused such embarrassment to the board, the CEO, to the reputation of the entire company – a woman who publicly took on one of the most powerful boys clubs in business – was yesterday ordered to pay back legal costs to Seven after she lost her case against her former employer.
Those costs are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Harrison says the ruling will bankrupt her.
Broke and in her late thirties, it’s also hard to see how Harrison will ever have a corporate career again.
In the words of one commentator, Harrison’s been “obliterated”, another said Seven “destroyed” their former employee, who had dared to reveal she’d had an extra-marital affair with CEO Tim Worner. The journalist adds that “no company would want to go through what Seven went through”.
And as for Andrew Bell, Seven’s barrister, his performance was apparently “flawless” and may see him become the “go-to guy for the CEOs and companies who will inevitably follow Seven’s footsteps”.
Indeed, there’s little doubt that after this win, plenty of companies will follow Seven’s footsteps. After all, Seven sent a message to corporates everywhere that the Amber Harrisons of the world can easily be taken on.
Harrison hit back at the legal system yesterday, alongside her former employer, saying that “too often, our legal system and courts are used by one party to exhaust the other, when one can’t afford the fight.”
In Harrison’s case, the fight ran for three years, but she claims it should have ended in 2014.
“They knew it would bankrupt me,” she said. “In the end it is regular people like you and I who end up being the victims of brutal corporate bullying and lawfare.”
CEO Tim Worner, meanwhile, is still in the job and has not seen his pay or bonus affected. That’s in sharp contrast to QBE CEO John Neal, who reportedly had his bonus cut by more than half a million dollars after his board learned of a relationship he’d had with an employee.
At the AFL, two senior executives resigned from their positions late last week, following revelations of sexual relations they’d had with younger members of staff.
I’m not sure why Harrison went on to sue Seven, despite signing a gag order in her initial deal that required her not to, or why she took details of the deal to the media — possibly it was because she saw nowhere else to go.
I’m also not sure how Harrison could ever have expected to win this fight. The justice system, just like the corporate world, is not built for women who refuse to stay silent – at least not when it comes to their dealings with men in powerful positions.
And didn’t Seven just remind Amber Harrison, and all of us, of that.