If there are, I’m finding it hard to see them. There was a huge response here when I posted about Kristy Fraser-Kirk’s sexual harrassment claim against David Jones and former CEO Mark McInnes for $37m. As I pointed out then and will reiterate now, it is a fraught subject for me because one of the individuals is a family friend. So I am going to sit this one out.
SHE sued David Jones for $37 million, but Kristy Fraser-Kirk will walk away from Australia’s biggest sexual-harassment case without a job at the department store and legal costs as high as $300,000.
The 27-year-old publicist will sacrifice a chunk of her $850,000 settlement to her legal team, publicist and three barristers, after agreeing to pay her own court costs in the settlement with David Jones and its former chief executive Mark McInnes, 45.
That includes paying for a top-class legal team at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, barristers Michael Lee, Rachel Francois and Ian Barker, QC and expert witnesses, psychologists’ reports and trips to Europe and the US to escape media scrutiny.
Both David Jones and Ms Fraser-Kirk’s PR teams said yesterday the settlement was a win for their side. But neither emerged as winners.
Sources close to Ms Fraser-Kirk said the $850,000 payout – of which she is likely to take home about $500,000 – was sizeable for a junior employee earning less than $70,000 a year.
Ms Fraser-Kirk’s case was fraught from the start. The absurdly high claim of $37 million in punitive damages exposed her to ridicule and Federal Court judge Geoffrey Flick criticised her attempt to draw in seven anonymous women, whom she said were also harassed by Mr McInnes.
Mr McInnes and David Jones have achieved the outcome they desired in settling the case for a sum originally offered during earlier negotiations. But the case has been devastating for Mr McInnes. He lost his job, his reputation was damaged and unsubstantiated claims were made about his behaviour towards women in the workplace dating back 20 years. Late yesterday, lawyers were negotiating details of the payout.
Ms Fraser-Kirk said:
“I could not have done this without the support and guidance from those in my life that matter most, to my partner, parents, family and friends, thank you and to my unwavering legal team, a special thanks. Also, to those members of the public who have supported me, thank you,” she said in the statement.
“This has been a difficult journey but one that I felt was important.
“The case has lead to real debate taking place which I am confident will lead to change. That is part of what the punitive damages claim was intended to achieve, and it has.
“I had asked the Court to award punitive damages, which was to go to charity, but as the Court will no longer be determining the case that’s no longer possible. I look forward, however, to participating in charitable work in the future.
“Thank you again for all your support. As the settlement is subject to confidentiality, I am not in a position to say anymore.”
“I welcome today’s settlement. It brings to an end a difficult time in many peoples’ lives and hopefully it marks the moment that everyone can begin focusing on the future,” he said in the statement.
“I have repeatedly said that the vast majority of the allegations are simply untrue and the nature of the court proceedings was an abuse of legal process.
“Personally I am looking forward to a new chapter in my family life and a resumption of my career in 2011. I would particularly like to thank my partner Lisa, my family and many friends for all their love and support.
“The settlement contains confidentiality obligations so I will not be making any further comment on these matters.”
Do you think this settlement is a good thing for Kristy? For David Jones? For Mark McInnes? Do you think this high profile case has been a good or bad thing for other women who may have experiences sexual harassment at work?