Global software giant Oracle has been ordered to pay $18,000 to a former employee after being found liable in a long-running sexual harassment lawsuit.
Plaintiff Rebecca Richardson initiated civil proceedings against Oracle and consulting sales manager Randol Tucker in 2010.
Richardson alleged she was harassed by Tucker on eleven occasions in 2008 while working on a large project with a major bank.
Alleged comments made on separate occasions included, “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.”
Richardson sought an estimated $450,000 in damages.
The Federal Court of Australia found Oracle "vicariously liable" for Tucker’s conduct but Justice Buchanan did not find Richardson had suffered economic loss as a result of that conduct.
"A substantial (indeed very optimistic) claim for damages was based upon the pleaded allegations," Justice Buchanan wrote in his judgment.
"I am satisfied that Ms Richardson did suffer both physical and psychological consequences as a result of Mr Tucker's conduct. Accordingly, compensation by way of damages must be assessed and awarded in her favour taking those matters into account.
"However, most of the claim for damages concerned alleged future economic loss, said to arise from Oracle's conduct towards Ms Richardson after she complained about Mr Tucker's conduct and from Mr Tucker's conduct itself.
"The essential elements of this claim were not established."
Justice Buchanan found Tucker’s actions as alleged by Richardson constituted sexual harassment.
“Mr Tucker’s conduct was persistent and ultimately callous,” he said. “It was, I am satisfied, intended at least to demean Ms Richardson and perhaps to humiliate her.
“I am satisfied to the statutory standard that Ms Richardson was sexually harassed by Mr Tucker. I am satisfied that it was distressing for her, that her distress manifested in physical symptoms over a period of time, and that she suffered an “adjustment disorder” as a result, as the expert psychiatrists agreed".
Oracle has 21 days to pay the damages judgment. Court costs are to be decided separately.
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