Trials & Litigation

Judge: Lawyer Not 'Unjustifiably Abused, Belittled, Humiliated, Threatened, Undermined or Bullied'

Describing a “regrettable” email exchange between two Melbourne law firm colleagues and friends as “a classic storm in a teacup,” an Australian judge has nixed a seven-figure damages claim by a former partner who said she was undermined, humiliated and harassed after she went on maternity leave.

Partner Fiona Brown, who previously headed the family law department at Maurice Blackburn Cashman, said she was unable to work after the alleged mistreatment by Lee Formica in 2003. She also contended that then-managing partner Michael Brett-Young.did nothing to stop it, the Age reports.

However, County Court Judge John Carmody held in a Friday decision that Brown hadn’t proven she was “‘unjustifiably abused, belittled, humiliated, threatened, undermined or bullied.”

Formica had been recruited by Brown and served as acting head of the department while Brown was on leave.

Brown was ordered by Carmody to pay costs, which are likely to add up to six figures.

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