A man in Australia is suing his former employer for AUS$800,000 (approx. $540,000), saying he was cajoled into taking part in a stage show at a work event that caused him to be humiliated.
He says the incident caused him “nervous shock and psychological injury.”
According to The Age, Ian Richard Billington, 47, is a former business manager for Sussan, a women’s fashion label. The event, in August 2015, was an awards ceremony during the company’s national conference in Creswick, Victoria.
Entertainment was provided by a Kylie Minogue impersonator. According to court papers, the impersonator twice called on Mr Billington to join her on stage. Billington says he made it clear he didn’t wish to do so but was pressurized by the crowd, with many cheering him on and others pushing and pulling him toward the stage.
In court papers, he says he was “asked deeply personal and humiliating questions by the impersonator.” This included asking about his marital status, and about the “presence of his wife (the applicant being in a homosexual relationship)”.
He was then asked “whether he liked to wear leather hotpants” and sent backstage where a dancer dressed him up in clothing that he said was belittling. He was then sent back on stage to dance with the Kylie impersonator.
He says that since that time, he has suffered panic attacks, agoraphobia, memory and concentration impairment, and sleep disturbance, among other issues.
“As a result of the said injuries the plaintiff has since only been able to work over the phone with limited face-to-face contact working a maximum of 18 hours a week.”
Billington’s lawsuit says his injuries came about from his employer, Sussan, failing in its obligations to provide a safe working environment.
Sussan has defended itself, saying Billington got on the stage of his own volition and, to the extent that he may have been compelled, it was not reasonably foreseeable he would suffer a psychiatric illness.
The case is due to be heard March, 5.