Oracle sexual harassment victim wins $130k on appeal

Oracle has been ordered to pay AU$130,000 in damages to former employee, Rebecca Richardson, which will be enough to cover her legal costs.

The Federal Court of Australia has decided to set aside the AU$18,000 amount it originally ordered technology giant, Oracle, to pay to sexually harassed victim and former employee, Rebecca Richardson.

Instead, Judge Kenny today bumped up the damages for Oracle to pay Richardson to AU$130,000.

"The order made by Judge Buchanan on 20 February 2013 that the first respondent is to pay to the applicant within 21 days the sum of $18,000 by way of damages as compensation for breach of ... the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 be set aside," he said.

The former project manager, who now works for EMC, sued Oracle for an initial amount of AU$450,000 over allegations of sexual harassment by sales representative Randol Tucker between April and November 2008.

Justice Robert Buchanan found Tucker's actions were "persistent and ultimately callous", and that Oracle did not take all the reasonable steps to prevent Tucker's conduct. As a result, Oracle was fined AU$18,000 in general damages. The reason for the low value was mainly because Richardson had left Oracle for her role at EMC.

"[Justice Robert Buchanan] rejected the contention that the economic losses that Ms Richardson claimed were suffered 'because' of Mr Tucker’s conduct," explained Judge Kenny.

However, when the court ruled on costs, Richardson was left with a massive legal bills covering not only her legal costs from when Oracle made its first offer to settle the case with her on September 4, 2010 for AU$55,000, but also Oracle's and Tucker's costs from that date to the end of the case in February 2013, where the two parties together made an offer of AU$85,000.

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