The former lover of Seven West Media boss Tim Worner has suffered a setback in her court battle with the company, after a Sydney judge refused to transfer the case to a court in her home state.
Amber Harrison, a former executive assistant at the media company, has been locked in a bitter court battle with Seven since she revealed embarrassing details of her affair with Mr Worner in December.
The NSW Supreme Court imposed a temporary gag order in February preventing her speaking publicly about the relationship or the company, and Seven will push for a permanent order at a four-day hearing starting on July 10.
Ms Harrison returned fire in March with a cross-claim alleging Seven breached an implied term of her employment contract to keep and maintain a safe system of work.
She also lodged a claim in the Federal Court in Melbourne seeking compensation and penalties from Seven for alleged breaches of the Fair Work Act.
Ms Harrison applied to the NSW Supreme Court for an order that the entire dispute, including Seven’s Supreme Court application for a permanent gag order, be transferred to the Federal Court in Melbourne and heard alongside her Fair Work claim.
But Supreme Court Justice John Sackar rejected the application on Wednesday.
Justice Sackar said it was “in the interests of justice to allow Seven to have its matter fully and expeditiously determined … before any consideration is given to Ms Harrison’s Federal Court proceedings”.
He said the Federal Court case was still in its “infancy” while the Supreme Court case was at a more advanced stage.
Justice Sackar noted the two cases had a central issue in common, which meant resolving the Supreme Court case might shed light on Ms Harrison’s ability to continue with the Fair Work Act claims in the Federal Court.
A Seven West Media spokesman said: “Seven West Media welcomes the NSW Supreme Court’s decision today and will continue working towards the final hearing in July.
“We have also lodged an application to strike out the Melbourne Federal Court applications.”
The heart of Ms Harrison’s Fair Work claim is that Seven initiated an investigation into her alleged misuse of a corporate credit card after she complained to Mr Worner in 2014 that she was suffering from “distress, shame, helplessness, anxiety, and panic attacks”.
Ms Harrison’s lawyers say the company contravened the Fair Work Act because it altered her role with the company “to her prejudice” and “injured her in her employment” after her 18-month affair with Mr Worner soured in June 2014.