As expected, the ABC has come to a confidential settlement with sacked CEO Michelle Guthrie, after she launched unlawful dismissal action in the Federal Court.
Guthrie was dramatically fired by the board of the public broadcaster in September, half way through her five year, $900,000 a year, contract.
The sacking led to the resignation of chairman Justin Milne, who Guthrie had accused of political interference and sexual harassment.
ABC releases statement
Yesterday, the ABC confirmed a settlement had been reached.
“The ABC and its former Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, are pleased to announce a resolution to their Federal Court litigation,” the statement said.
“The details of the resolution will remain confidential. No further public statement will be made regarding the resolution by the ABC or Ms Guthrie.”
Guthrie said that she was “devastated” by the sacking, and according to her court documents, was set to argue that the ABC had no “reason to trigger the termination clause.”
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Fair Work Claims, said he was not surprised by the outcome.
“Almost all unfair and unlawful dismissal cases end up being resolved before the matter gets to a formal hearing in a court or a commission,” he said.
“In this case, you can bet that the ABC did not want this matter dragging on through the court and being reported in the newspapers and on television every day – it’s just a bad look.”
According to recent figures released by the Fair Work Commission, just five percent of unfair dismissal applications make it through to a formal hearing, with all the rest settled during the compulsory mediation process, or before.
“It would be my guess that the ABC came up with a figure to pay Ms Guthrie to go away, and Ms Guthrie would have come up with her own figure, and then the parties would have agreed on a third figure somewhere in the middle,” Mr Heffernan said.
Almost all settlements of this kind include a confidentiality clause, so no one will ever know how much the ABC paid Guthrie.
“It is pretty standard that when a payment is made in return for legal action being dropped, that the details of that arrangement are kept confidential by the parties,” Mr Heffernan said.
Ita takes charge
The settlement between the ABC and Ms Guthrie comes as media icon Ita Buttrose is announced as the new chairman of the board.
Buttrose said yesterday that her role will be to rebuild trust in the public broadcaster following Guthrie’s departure.
On the controversial sacking, Buttrose said: “It’s a management issue. It’s being dealt with.”
A new managing director of the ABC is expected to be appointed in the coming days.
If you have been unfairly dismissed from employment, we can help.
Please call our team at Fair Work Claims today on
1300 853 837