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Network 10 executive producer Maria Michael loses lawsuit


Network 10 executive producer Maria Michael loses court case

  • Maria Michael lost her case
  • Network 10 sued

A former executive producer who worked on popular programs such as Bondi Rescue and The Living Room has lost a court case against her former employer Network 10 after she was owed almost $400,000.

Maria Michael had been employed by Network 10 for more than three decades and was earning more than $260,000 a year when she was fired in May 2020, marking the end of her “long and storied” career.

Despite receiving more than $255,000 in various redundancy payments, Ms Michael launched legal action against Network 10 in 2020 following a dispute over the 12 weeks’ pay she had been paid as severance pay.

Ms Michael claimed in court that she was entitled to 78 weeks’ pay – or $393,371 – because her employment was allegedly covered by the company’s enterprise agreement, which was enforced under the Fair Work.

Maria Michael had been employed by Network 10 for more than three decades when she was made redundant in May 2020. Photo: Instagram

Justice John Snaden told the Federal Court of Australia on Friday that Ms Michael was not covered by the agreement when it was terminated and was therefore not entitled to the substantial payment she claimed to receive .

“The enterprise agreement did not cover – and, therefore, did not apply to – Ms Michael’s employment with Network 10. Network 10 was not obliged to pay her compensation departure,” Judge Snaden told the court.

“The Fair Work Act probably prohibits the court from awarding costs; but, in the event that there may be a reason, as yet unknown, to think otherwise, a request for reimbursement of costs may be presented.

Justice Snaden told the court that Ms Michael’s central argument was that she was employed or covered by the classification of “producer” under the award, and that she was instead an executive.

“The fact that Ms. Michael occasionally applied herself to the performance of non-management tasks – while this is undoubtedly to her credit – does not deviate from this central reality,” Judge Sanden said.

“Ms. Michael was not a production employee who, from time to time, also managed the creation of television shows; she was an executive who managed the production of television shows.

Maria Michael, left.  with Network 10 host Grant Denyer.  Photo: Instagram

Maria Michael, left. with Network 10 host Grant Denyer. Photo: Instagram

“The major and substantial aspect of his job was to manage production (either in-house or through third parties). This aspect did not match any of the descriptions in the price.

“It follows – or, but for my previous conclusion, it would have been the case – that Ms Michael was not employed as a ‘producer’ … she was not part of the cohort of employees who were ‘…covered by the classifications established in the award’.’

The court heard that during her time at Network 10, Ms Michaels was responsible for managing both the network’s shows and those produced externally, including Family Feud, Bondi Vet and Celebrity Name Game.

“There is no doubt – and it is not really in dispute – that Ms Michael’s role was of significant seniority and importance to the production of the content broadcast on Network 10,” Mr Justice Snaden said.

“She (also) operated outside the typical confines of other Network 10 executive producers, who generally did not do ‘hands on’ work. There is no doubt that she did more ‘on the tools’ work than his executive producing counterparts.

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