The loyal staffer who successfully won a $2.8million payout after suing her former workplace for being relentlessly ‘bullied and harassed’ by her oppressive boss has revealed how the ordeal ruined her life.
Vivienne Leggett, 54, worked in sponsorship and promotions at Hawkesbury Race Club, in ‘s north-west, for more than 25 years before quitting due to the treatment she received from CEO Greg Rudolph over several months in 2016.
The Federal Court of Australia heard Mr Rudolph’s behaviour led Ms Leggett to develop a significant depressive disorder with anxiety that left her unable to work for nearly six years.
Ms Leggett sued in 2019 and was recently awarded the life-changing payout for the year of bullying she suffered from Mr Rudolph, plus being denied annual leave, long service leave and commission payments.
Mr Rudolph has since stepped down, citing his desire to work in a number of ‘charity fields’.
In an exclusive interview, mother-of-Ms Leggett said her her physical and mental health fell apart during her five year legal battle just to ‘keep living.’
She now struggles to drive for periods longer than an hour without having to stop and rest, and digitain is still on medication to treat ongoing mental illness, was forced to sell three properties and take out more than $200,000 from her super.
‘I lost my identity,’ she said, voice wavering.
‘I was always Vivienne Leggett from Hawkesbury Race Club – I wasn’t Ashley or Scott’s mum, I was Vivienne, from Hawkesbury Race Club.’
In happier times: Vivienne Leggett and her husband Garry attending a charity ball supporting Hawkesbury Living Cancer Trust where she is a founding member.
Ms Leggett won a $2.8million payout after suing her former workplace
Hawkesbury Race Club CEO Greg Rudolph (above) was found to have bullied and harassed Ms Leggett over several months in 2016. The Federal Court heard Mr Rudolph’s conduct caused Ms Leggett to develop a depressive disorder that has left her unemployable for six years
Ms Leggett started working at the club in 1991 when she was 28 years old, under then-CEO Brian Fletcher, who described her as a ‘trusted employee’.
She was responsible for bringing in new deals and retaining existing contracts, and was promoted to the club’s sponsorship and marketing manager.
Mr Rudolph took over as CEO in May 2016 after Mr Fletcher left to take the top job at the Penrith Panthers NRL club.
The court heard the new chief began bullying Ms Leggett from the outset, believing she was being paid too much.
She recalled her first meeting with Mr Rudolph, where the new CEO pulled her into his office and, as the court heard she alleged, said: ‘You earn too much money, if you were at Gosford you’d earn half as much.’
‘No hello, no nothing.
He stuck his long arm out to me and pointed at me, about a metre from his face,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I was a bit of a smart a**, I did say: “Hey Greg, how are you?”
‘There was no introduction, nothing.
It was straight away.
‘It was that same meeting he called me a “nothing”.’
The court heard that in July 2016 Mr Rudolph said to Ms Leggett: ‘You are not a contractor. You are not an employee.
You are a nothing’.
She also said when first introducing himself to the rest of the women at the club, Mr Rudolph said: ‘Before I even start, I want you all to know I’m a control freak’.
Ms Leggett (pictured) worked in sponsorship and promotions at Hawkesbury Race Club for more than 25 years before quitting due to the treatment of its CEO – before winning $2.8million after taking the club to Federal Court
Ms Leggett quit due to the treatment she received from the Hawkesbury Race Club CEO Greg Rudolph (above)
Mr Rudolph would repeatedly single the sponsorship manager out, micromanage her tasks, relentlessly email her and denied her basic benefits that every employee was entitled to, the court heard.
Ms Leggett complained to Mr Rudolph about his behaviour about four months after he started the new role, explaining the impact it was having on her mentally and her capacity to do her job appropriately.
She asked him to refer the complaint to Hawkesbury Race Club’s board of directors, before he responded the next day asking her to come to his office to ‘discuss her work performance’, the court decision said.
Mr Rudolph said she could bring a ‘support person’ to the meeting, before Ms Leggett sent him a medical certificate explaining she couldn’t work for the next week ‘due to work stress’.
The court decision said Mr Rudolph then forwarded her letter to his father-in-law and added: ‘Dropping like flies’.
Ms Leggett said on the last day of the financial year in 2016 Mr Rudolph demanded ‘a momentous’ amount of paperwork.
Ms Leggett was a beloved employee at Hawkesbury Race Club – respected highly by colleagues and former CEO Brian Fletcher, who now runs the Penrith Panthers
‘I remember going to my husband, just exhausted, saying “I don’t know why he’s doing this”,’ she said.
‘What’s he trying to do, is he trying to take my sponsors away from me?
‘What is it?
All he wanted to know was about my contracts, what I had in place, how long they were for.
‘That was pretty horrific. Once he got that he just kept adding and asking all these questions on this thing that took me eight hours. He was micromanaging to a level I couldn’t turn my head.’
Ms Leggett claimed Mr Rudolph’s treatment of her caused her to lose sleep, doubt her ability to do her job and made her feel ‘so useless’.
‘I was deflated, lethargic, questioned myself as a person, my ability.
I started to crawl inside a shell,’ she said.
On another occasion, upon reviewing Ms Leggett’s use of the club’s credit card, she claimed that Mr Rudolph questioned her spending $15 on parking.
‘It was just ridiculous. I didn’t have a credit card until six months before Brian [Fletcher] left.
‘He would say fill up your car if you’ve been driving around a lot, which I really appreciated because it’d been 20 or 25 years,’ she said.
The Federal Court heard he often held ‘dogged interrogations’ over expenditures.
The court heard Mr Rudolph even questioned another employee about Ms Leggett taking a ‘kickback’, which the employee rejected.
‘With [Mr Rudolph], if I didn’t put that $3.50 receipt in, I’m not going to get the money.
‘For a CEO it was well and truly under his pay rate, the things he was getting involved with.’
In happier times: Ms Leggett (center) with her daughter in-law Iveta (left), husband Garry (center left), son Scott (right) and daughter Ashley (center right)
The court heard a phone call she had with board member Sid Kelly OAM where Ms Leggett accused Mr Rudolph of ‘constantly harassing’ her.
‘I feel like he doesn’t trust what I’m doing or what I’ve been doing for 25 years.
I feel like he’s just, like, put me in a box and won’t let me do anything,’ she told Mr Kelly.
‘I just can’t work properly because he’s constantly harassing me.’
In another conversation with Mr Kelly, the court heard Ms Leggett said she ‘hadn’t stopped crying for a week’ over Mr Rudolph’s treatment of her.
cope. I’m constantly, I just I can’t stop crying. I haven’t stopped crying for a week,’ she told Mr Kelly.
‘I can’t do my work. I’m so stressed. I can’t eat. Can’t sleep. I’m just completely just not myself.’
Ms Leggett was forced to sell her three properties and withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from her super because she wasn’t paid for years since October 2016.
She was not paid any workers compensation for the first 15 months of being off work, and the Race Club withheld her long service and annual leave, as well as commissions she had brought into Hawkesbury.
The Leggetts were paying off a $6,000 mortgage loan every month, so the mother was forced to take more than $200,000 out of her super supposed to see her through retirement.
The three properties they owned were sold off each year to try to survive financially.
Ms Leggett began employment at the club in 1991 when she was 28 years old, working under then-CEO Brian Fletcher, who described her as a ‘trusted employee’
Mr Rudolph, who had previously been deputy chair of stewards with Racing NSW, was hired by South Australia’s equivalent body early this year.
He was initially employed as a senior steward but was recently promoted to racing operations manager in a revamp of the organisation.
Racing SA chief executive Nick Redin confirmed last month he and his board were comfortable with Mr Rudolph’s appointment to the newly-created job, despite Ms Leggett’s experience.
‘We did our due diligence when Greg joined us,’ Mr Redin told the Herald Sun.
‘We were satisfied with Greg on the way in and we’ve seen nothing since he’s been with us to indicate we should have any cause for concern.’
Ms Leggett was distressed to hear Mr Rudolph recently received a promotion at Racing SA – saying there was ‘no fairness’ in the industry
The court found the club was in breach of its contractual obligations toward Ms Leggett, and the Fair Work Act, for not paying her the benefits she was entitled to.
It also ruled that the club was negligent in providing a safe work environment for her.
It ordered Hawkesbury Race Club pay Ms Leggett $2.8million for denied bonuses, payments, leave and future loss of work.
‘Bullying of women in the workforce seems to be rampant, not just in racing,’ she said.
After resigning in 2019, Mr Rudolph said he was proud of his achievements at the helm of the club.
‘The Board and I are proud of what we have achieved during my term, which has extended beyond my initial three year commitment,’ he said.
‘The time is right for me to complete my business studies and to put some more time into various other commitments I have, in charity fields, for example.’
Daily Mail Australia put questions to Mr Rudolph, but did not receive a response by deadline.