Actor Christie Whelan Browne sues over alleged sexual harassment

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Actor Christie Whelan Browne has launched Federal Court proceedings against the theatre company behind The Rocky Horror Show, alleging she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment by a cast member and unlawful discrimination.

Lawyers for Whelan Browne filed documents in the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday against Oldfield Entertainment, formerly known as GFO Entertainment.

Christie Whelan Browne previously made a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission against Oldfield Entertainment.Credit: Nick Moir

Whelan Browne said in a statement that her lawsuit alleged Oldfield Entertainment “unlawfully discriminated against me under the Sex Discrimination Act by subjecting me to sex discrimination, repeated sexual harassment by a fellow cast member and to victimisation when I spoke out against him”.

“My claim is about my experiences when I was employed as a lead actor in The Rocky Horror Show in 2014 and then Oldfield’s response to my complaints from 2017 to date.”

Whelan Browne had filed a complaint in February against Oldfield Entertainment in the Australian Human Rights Commission. A person cannot file a claim for unlawful discrimination in the Federal Court until that step is taken and the complaint has been terminated by the commission.

Christie Whelan Browne on stage during the Rocky Horror Show. Credit: Angela Wylie

“I filed this application after the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission decided the complaint I filed with it in February could not be settled by conciliation,” Whelan Browne said.

“I filed this application today with fear and anxiety, but also certain in the knowledge that it is something I must do and that I will see through to the end. I know that I deserved better treatment, that I deserved to feel safe and respected in my workplace.

“Other women in the arts deserve better, and I won’t accept that anything less than that is ‘just the way it is’.”

Actor Craig McLachlan launched defamation proceedings in 2018 against The Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC and Whelan Browne over reports alleging he indecently assaulted and sexually harassed female performers during the 2014 stage production of The Rocky Horror Show.

McLachlan abruptly abandoned the case last year, before the media organisations and Whelan Browne had put their witnesses in the box. He was ordered to pay legal costs, reportedly in the order of $2 million.

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