Former My Kitchen Rules contestant Piper O’Neill, who appeared in the 2019 season, has been awarded compensation after a claim against Channel Seven where she argued she was left unable to work due to ‘psychological injury’.
O’Neill’s (pictured left) claim centered on a ‘sex scandal’ storyline perpetuated by the Network when they revealed her relationship with a rival contestant, Victor Aeberli (pictured right). O’Neill has two children, and was seperated from her husband at the time of the show’s filming.
Her partner in the experiment, Veronica Critovoa told news.com.au in 2019 that before the ‘bombshell’ was revealed, “everyone [the other contestants] knew what was going on between Victor and Piper.”
“It’s just very unfair because it’s all public. She’s got a family and two kids and this is really unfair.”
O’Neill lodged a worker’s compensation claim against Seven in August of 2020, where she sought almost $1000 in weekly benefits starting from December 24 2018. The $1000 referred to the $500 paid weekly to the contestants for being on the show, and an additional $500 allowance given to the contestants to buy food for the program.
One of the central disputes of the case was whether this allowance counted towards O’Neill’s pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE), which is used to determine the amount of compensation a worker recieves.
As reported by news.com.au, commissions member Carolyn Rimmer said that, “there is a dispute as to PIAWE and as to whether the payment of $500 per week by the respondent in addition to the ‘fee’ of $500 per week as an allowance which should be included in her ordinary earnings.”
According to Rimmer, O’Neill argued that whether the $500 was meal allowance was “arbitrary and did not alter the substantive reality that the applicant was remunerate in the sum of $1000 per week for each week that she worked for the respondent.”
In a supplementary statement, O’Neill said that the $500 for food was “for our personal food, which is actually seperate from the food that we were using for practose.”
“I understood that it was something akin to a meal allowance and that we could use the money in anyway we wanted and there were no rules regarding obtaining payment.
In contrast, Seven said that $500 was for the expense of ingredients, meaning it should be seperate from calculation of PIAWE.
On this claim, Rimmer agreed with Seven, ordering that they should pay O’Neill a weekly rate of $475 for the weeks between December 24 2018 and March 25 2019.
In the original workers compensation claim, O’Neill alleged that her psychological injury was “due to vilification and bullying from producers and the network.”
She also alleged that this included “over 40 hour work weeks, control over her phone, distortions of her actions and words after editing, victimisation, bullying and harassment and unfair treatment and adverse interactions with other workers, producers and staff”.
Seven disputed several allegations, including whether O’Neill sustained injury and became incapacitated and, if so, whether her employment by Seven was a substantial contributing factor.
They also disputed whether she was indeed classified as a worker, and claimed that she did not file her compensation claim within the legally required time frame.
A Seven spokesperson told B&T that, “we refute any claims in this case. There has been no settlement or lump sum payment. As this matter is ongoing, we have no further comment.”
Featured Image: Facebook/My Kitchen Rules