Nicole Prince was a contestant on the Seven Network reality television show, House Rules, in 2017.
As a result of being unfairly portrayed by the producers and consequently harassed and bullied online, Ms Prince suffered a major depressive episode and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
To claim compensation pursuant to the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (“the Act”), it must be determined that the Claimant is a Worker and not a Contractor. If the distinction is not clear, courts look to the nature of the relationship to determine the status. Any written agreement stating the nature of a relationship is relevant, but not decisive.
In this case, the contract expressly stated that Ms Prince was not an employee and Seven Network is not her Employer. The Claimant’s solicitor’s successfully argued to the Workers Compensation Commission (“WCC”) that she was an integral part to Seven Network’s business and that the Network had control over her activities whilst on the show. The WCC determined that the relationship between the parties was that of employee and employer.
The WCC’s next task is to determine whether the Claimant sustained an injury in the course of her employment and if so, whether an entitlement to compensation flows.
The WCC accepted evidence that as a result of the selective and prejudicial editing of the footage to portray the Claimant as a villain, together with the consequential social media backlash; the Claimant sustained a psychological condition. The WCC noted that the Network was aware that the Claimant was receiving negative comments on its social media platforms, however did not take steps to remove those comments which led to the development of her condition. Ultimately, the WCC determined that Seven Network was the main contributing factor to her injury and that she was therefore entitled to compensation.
Kells believes it is important for injured workers to receive workers compensation benefits. Please do not hesitate to contact our compensation team if you have been injured in the course of your employment, regardless of what your employment classification is.
This article was prepared by Katherine Teague, a lawyer in our compensation team. Katherine can be contacted on 02 4221 9311.
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