A man who is suing retailer Sussan over a 'humiliating' experience with a Kylie Minogue impersonator in Creswick at an office party has taken his case to the Supreme Court.
The homosexual man alleges he sustained a 'psychological injury' when a Kylie Minogue impersonator called him onto the stage twice throughout the evening in front of an all-female audience.
The impersonator was employed to provide entertainment to Sussan employees at an awards night in August 2015, held during a four day conference at the then Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick.
The man, who The Courier has chosen not to name, alleges he was either coerced or physically pushed to return to the stage the second time, despite making clear he did not want to, and he was dressed in a costume over his business suit and danced and sang.
"Whilst on the stage the second time the plaintiff suffered embarrassing, humiliating and discriminatory behaviour conducted in front of his work colleagues that was offensive, abusive and belittling and amounted to harassment within the meaning of the contract of employment," the statement to the court said.
It is alleged the man was the only male in the audience and he was discriminated against, he was asked 'deeply personal and humiliating questions by the impersonator as to his marital status including the presence of his wife (he was in a homosexual relationship) and whether he liked to wear 'leather hotpants'.
The complainant alleged he was then dressed by a female dancer in humiliating and belittling clothing and was then required to dance and sing on stage.
As a result of this the complainant submitted he said he experienced 'significant symptoms of a mental disorder' as a result of the stress and humiliation of the incident.
The man appealed the dismissal of an application to amend a written statement he had made to the County Court about the incident.
In documents provided to the court, he said Sussan was either negligent or breached its obligations under the contract of employment.
In defence of the claim, lawyers for the company said the man performed on the stage with the impersonator voluntarily and was not directed or obligated by the company to do so.
The plaintiff suffered embarrassing, humiliating and discriminatory behaviour conducted in front of his work colleagues that was offensive, abusive and belittling.
The case was listed for trial by a jury in the County Court on 10 July, 2019, but on 28 June, 2019 the man served the company a proposed amended statement that sought to claim damages for battery by the company's employees.
The amended statement alleged the man was singled out to come up on stage and did so under compulsion the first time, and advised two employees he did not want to go on stage again.
It claimed when he was called on stage again, he was grabbed by several store managers who pulled him towards the stage and was pushed by 'three or four hands' to his back.
The man could not identify the store managers but said the pushes to his back felt physically threatening.
The man said he had since experienced panic disorder with agoraphobia, adjustment disorder with panic attacks, anxiety and depression, pain and shock.
The defence argued the man's proposed amended statement should be rejected because it did not identify the employees, it did not provide a basis for the company to be liable for the acts and it was not possible to investigate factual allegations as it was four years since the incident.
The judge who heard the application ruled the defendant would be prejudiced if the man was able to amend his statement at this stage of the proceeding and he must identify the people who pulled and pushed him to the stage to allow the defendant to properly investigate the allegations.
The Supreme Court heard the appeal of the decision to refuse the amended statement on February 5 and this week decided to refuse the appeal.
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