Love her or loathe her, Charlotte Dawson has used her
public profile to raise awareness about mental illness. Ms
Dawson's past public battle with social media trolls took a
toll on her own mental health, resulting in her being hospitalised.
Glossy magazine covers didn't miss a (heart) beat. Recently Ms
Dawson was hospitalised again, but this time someone else paid
You'd think her agent would be licking its trout-pout lips.
Any publicity is good publicity right? Afraid not. Last week she
publicly clashed with her agent Chic Management. Chic Management
allegedly stated that Ms Dawson's brand was being negatively
affected by her stays in hospital and her public, yet confronting
insights into her personal life. Rumour has it that, as a result,
Chic Management may cut its ties with Ms Dawson.
Not sounding right? We didn't think so. In fact, terminating
a contract such as Ms Dawson's for reasons including her mental
illness could constitute unlawful discrimination.
Mental illness falls within the operation of both State and
Federal anti-discrimination legislation, meaning that you cannot
discriminate against a person on the basis of their mental illness
in the course of employment. The protection also extends beyond
traditional employment arrangements into other areas such as
contractors, employment agencies, and goods and services.
What about the agent's right to ensure that it only
represents talent with a personal brand aligned with its own?
It's a valid interest, but when the line is drawn at the point
of hospitalisation due to mental illness the agent ought to proceed
with caution in light of the anti-discrimination legislation.
That's a magazine cover headline you don't want.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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