An application has been filed with Fair Work Australia by radio presenter Mel Greig alleging that Southern Cross Austereo, (owner of Sydney radio station 2Day FM) failed to maintain a safe workplace in the devastating aftermath of a radio prank phone call late last year. Mel Greig and co-host Michael Christian made a hoax call to the hospital ward where the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was being treated for morning sickness. Believing the call was from the Queen and Prince Phillip, the British nurse Jacintha Saldanha put the call to the ward. The call was broadcast and Saldanha, a mother of two, committed suicide days after the incident and call being broadcast. A note left behind blamed presenters for her death.
Greig has been off air since the incident December and managing partner Anthony Carbone, from lawyers Nowicki Carbone, said the station appeared to have been ”playing with fire” by encouraging questionable stunts – and that Greig has a ”very strong case” against her employer saying a claim could comprise of medical expenses, loss of future income, damages and potentially pain and suffering. Greig would probably need to prove she had suffered a diagnosable psychological injury as a result of the prank call incident – but not that Saldanha’s suicide was foreseeable.
This case highlights the tragic impact on not only the victim, but the environment which encouraged the behaviours in the name of fun. ”It goes to the heart of what kind of workplace Mel was working in,” Carbone said. ”Did Austereo condone and encourage the pranks? Did they promote bad conduct?”
Fair Work Australia says if nothing was resolved through the conciliation process, Grieg would need to pursue legal action through the Federal Court.
As leaders we are accountable under the law, to create safe work environments that are not just functionally safe and this ongoing case is a tragic opportunity to reflect and ask, as a leader, what am I accountable for?
Check out our video:
Workplace Safety: What Are You Accountable For?