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Coerced crossdressing caused psychiatric injuries, worker claims

A worker is suing his employer for psychiatric injuries after being “obligated to dress up dance and sing” onstage at a business conference.

The Sussan employee claimed he was coerced into wearing “gold hotpants, a bikini top and a pink cowboy hat” over his suit.

The case was scheduled to be heard last year, but about two weeks before, the worker then tried to add damages for battery to his claim, because he had been grabbed and pushed towards the stage.

The worker’s application to amend the claim was denied. His appeal of that decision was also refused.

Employer performed ‘voluntarily’

The worker claimed the employer was vicariously liable for the stress and humiliation the incident caused, which resulted in him later suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

In its defence, the employer submitted that the worker performed onstage voluntarily and was not directed or obligated to do so. It further argued it could not reasonably foresee the worker suffering a psychiatric injury as a result of those actions.

Seeking additional damages for battery, the worker further alleged he was pushed and pulled with “such force that had he struggled to free himself … and the batteries were thereby physically threatening to him”. He also alleged many other employees had “aided and abetted” the batteries by cheering in the form of “woo-hoos”.

Too late to amend claim

The Victorian Supreme Court bench dismissed the appeal of the County Court’s decision to deny amending the claim.

“[The employer] would, clearly, suffer irremediable prejudice, by being faced with a new claim, at a particularly late stage of the proceeding, which it was unable to properly investigate,” the Justices said.

Moreover, the Justices noted that the worker did not provide “any proper explanation for his delay” in amending the claim.

“Indeed, it was conceded by counsel for [the worker], on the application, that nothing new had been revealed, and nothing had changed, which had necessitated the proposed amendment,” they said.

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