Former Living Room executive producer Maria Michael has lost a lawsuit against Network 10 after claiming $400,000 in underpayments.
Michael was employed at 10 for more than three decades, earning more than $260,000 a year when she was made redundant in May 2020.
Despite being paid out more than $255,000 in various termination entitlements, she launched legal action against 10, claiming she was entitled to 78 weeks’ pay – or $393,371 – because her employment was allegedly covered by the company’s enterprise agreement.
News Corp reports Federal Court of Australia judge John Sneddon ruled she was not covered by the agreement when she was terminated, and was thus not owed the substantial payout she claimed to be.
Justice Snaden told the court that Ms Michael’s central contention was that she was employed in, or covered by, the classification of “Producer” under the Award, and instead was an executive.
“It is beyond doubt — and not really in contest — that Ms Michael’s role was one of significant seniority and importance to the production of Network 10’s broadcast content,” Justice Snaden said.
“She (also) operated outside the classical boundaries of Network 10’s other executive producers, who typically did not undertake ‘hands-on’ work. There is no doubt she performed more work ‘on the tools’ than her executive producer counterparts.”
He ruled the Enterprise Agreement did not cover — and, therefore, did not apply to — Ms Michael’s employment with Network 10. Network 10 was not obliged to pay her by way of severance.
“The Fair Work Act likely prohibits the court from making any award of costs; but, in the event that there might be some as-yet-unventilated reason to think otherwise, an application for costs may be made.”