Seven West Media – still smarting from its ongoing Amber Harrison debacle – looks like it’s heading back to the courtroom after one of its former newsreaders claimed she was sacked while on maternity leave.
Talitha Cummins (pictured above), a reporter for Weekend Sunrise, claims the network terminated her employment nine weeks into her maternity leave. Cummins went public with a previous battle with alcoholism last October.
Yesterday, Cummins lodged a claim in the Federal Circuit Court after apparent mediation with the network broke down.
Apparently, Cummins’ Weekend Sunrise role was only casual and when the contract ran out the network reportedly offered her another role that required the newsreader to start at 2am for much longer hours and no extra pay. A role Cummins refused.
A spokesperson for Seven has told Fairfax Media that Cummins was “never dismissed” and the network will “strongly defend our position”.
This is the third high-profile incident the network has had since the Harrison scandal broke in December.
In February, it settled with a junior reporter from Adelaide, Amy Taeuber, who claimed she was bullied, called a lesbian by a senior staffer and then terminated. Taeuber reportedly wanted as much as $300,000, however, the case was settled out of court and her payment never made public.
Yesterday, Cummins told Fairfax Media: “I never wanted any bad blood with my former employer, and I have tried to settle this matter in a manner that recognises my rights under the law. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach anything like a reasonable settlement.
“The issue at stake is an important one, not only for me but for many women, as I’ve observed in practice. Many aren’t in a position to defend their workplace rights. I’m in the fortunate position where I can.
“I also have a child now, and I feel it’s important to set an example for him about respect for women in the workplace,” she said.