Vivienne Leggett has exposed the bullying and harassment she suffered from her “micromanaged” boss, and how it destroyed her life.
A woman has opened up about the disgusting treatment she received from her ‘control freak’ boss after he sued her workplace and won a $2.8million payout.
Vivienne Leggett worked at Hawkesbury Race Club in NSW from 1991 until 2017 when she quit over the treatment she received from her former boss Greg Rudolph when he became CEO in 2016.
Following a grueling legal battle, the Federal Court of Australia ruled last month that the club had been negligent in failing to protect her from the risk of psychiatric injury and ordered the payment of millions of dollars.
At the time of Mr Rudolph’s appointment, the mother-of-two was a highly successful sponsorship manager, but she claims his treatment was so harsh it ruined her life.
She said the bullying affected her to the point that she was unable to work for almost six years due to the development of a disabling depressive disorder.
Ms Leggett told news.com.au she felt her former employer ‘didn’t care less that I fell off the face of the earth’.
Speaking about her first official meeting with Mr Rudolph, the 54-year-old claimed to have dragged her into a room and told her she was overpaid.
Ms Leggett said she was ‘totally shocked’ as the new CEO continued to ridicule her, particularly when he said ‘you are not an entrepreneur, you are not an employee, you are nothing “, a claim that has also been heard. by the court.
This was denied by Mr Rudolph in court but was not accepted by Judge Steven Rares.
She recalled how things deteriorated from there, with Mr Rudolph continually micromanaging and criticizing her work to the point of losing confidence in her and her ability to do her job – something she had been doing successfully for more than two decades.
“I actually thought I was of no use to anyone, I felt very oppressed and mentally abused,” she said.
Ms Leggett said she was suicidal. She claimed when she asked the club managers for help, “they all turned their backs” knowing how she was being treated.
She told how she had been referred to St John Of God, a mental health hospital, twice, but Racing NSW would not fund it and she could not afford the cost as she was not receiving accident compensation from the work at the time.
News.com.au has contacted Mr Rudolph for comment. He has since stepped down as CEO, citing his desire to work in a number of charitable areas.
Ms Leggett told news.com.au she used the multi-million dollar payment from the Federal Court case to pay off her mortgage because she “will never be able to work again”.
“By the time the Federal Court fees are paid, my legal team is paid, my tax liabilities are paid, there won’t be much left, but that’s okay because there was never any question money, it was always about the premise and how I was tossed aside and left for dead,” she said.
“I know ‘it was always a matter of principle’ might sound very cliché, but under these circumstances it’s 100% true and if, going through me, those six years of absolute hell can or have helped any other employee to seek help (if they have exhausted all avenues within their employment structure) by visiting their doctor and possibly seeking help from their union representative or going the a private dispute, then this nightmare will have been worth it.
Ms Leggett also spoke to a media outlet Just horse racing last month following the court ruling.
When the interviewer asked her what comes to mind when she thinks of Mr. Rudolph, she replied, “Arrogant, anxiety, heart palpitations and disgust.
“I knew straight away he was a control freak because he said so very proudly to the administrative staff the first day he started,” she told the publication.
In his judgment, Judge Rares said Mr Rudolph had “bullied and harassed Ms Leggett from the outset of her role”.
“In my opinion, the conduct of the Club, through Mr. Rudolph, effectively destroyed the life of Mrs. Leggett,” Judge Rares said.
“She cannot work and, as agreed by the joint experts, is permanently unable to do so due to the conduct of Mr Rudolph and the Club.
“This conduct has caused a very serious psychiatric illness that may never be cured or significantly improved. »
The experts were psychiatrists who agreed that the chief executive’s conduct towards Ms Leggett caused her to suffer from a significant depressive disorder with anxiety which made her unemployable.
Ms Leggett’s solicitor, Brett Gilbert of Gilberts Legal, accused the racing club and Racing NSW of refusing to accept responsibility “for what can only be described as disgraceful behaviour”.
“Instead of investigating her complaints, they set Ms Leggett aside after 25 years of loyal service and forced her to fight them in court for more than five years to get justice, unsuccessfully appealing all decisions that went against them along the way, and never acknowledging any wrongdoing,” he said, according to Hawkesbury Post.
“This case is a salutary warning to all employers that they must take allegations of bullying seriously and that they must be proactive in monitoring and responding to the mental health risks to which bullying can expose their employees. . »
– with Chantelle Francis