More than a dozen former employees of radio stations owned by Nova Entertainment are planning a class action lawsuit against the Lachlan Murdoch controlled company, Variety Australia has learned.
It is understood that at least 15 former employees are part of the proposed lawsuit – prepared by lawyer Kristian Bolwell, principal of Sydney based firm WorkLawyers – alleging claims of workplace misconduct including bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Bolwell confirmed to Variety Australia on Thursday afternoon that he has been approached by a number of ex-employees and is “assisting them to resolve their issues, potentially on a class basis.”
Sources also told Variety Australia that while the majority of claims are mostly focused on one senior executive, there are some allegations involving multiple other Nova Entertainment leaders.
In an intake form, sighted by Variety Australia, WorkLawyers is asking respondents to detail their experiences of misconduct during their employment with the company, including any of a physical nature.
Sources said the lawsuit could reach the courts “within weeks.”
The privately-owned company operates the Nova and Smoothfm radio networks, along with Adelaide-based talk station FiveAA, Central Coast-based music station Star 104.5, and a podcast network. It also co-owns 97.3FM in Brisbane under a joint venture with ARN.
In May last year, Nova Entertainment launched a whistleblower program for employees to bypass human resources and confidentially report any discrimination, bullying, harassment, offensive behaviour, fraud, illegal acts, corruption and other forms of misconduct.
The company partnered with independent provider Your Call, which positions itself as “a modern external whistleblowing hotline and online service” that gives “stakeholders an opportunity to speak up” about behaviours that fall below employment standards.
Six months prior to the introduction of the whistleblower initiative, there was a changing of the guard at Nova Entertainment when Peter Charlton replaced Cathy O’Connor as chief executive officer. Prior to his elevation, Charlton was the network’s chief commercial officer.
Variety Australia is not suggesting any wrongdoing by Murdoch, Charlton, O’Connor or any other Nova Entertainment executive.
UPDATE: Nova Entertainment declined to comment prior to publishing, but has since provided the below statement to Variety Australia:
NOVA Entertainment is not aware of the filing of any class action or other legal proceedings related to alleged workplace misconduct. NOVA Entertainment has not been served with any court documents nor has it been contacted by any legal firms in relation to any proposed class action.
NOVA Entertainment endeavours to ensure our workplace is free of bullying and harassment, whether based on an employee’s sex, race, religion, disability or any other characteristic.
In May 2021 we implemented Speak Up!, a new whistleblower program for employees to report any forms of misconduct as well as a new partnership with Your Call, an independent confidential service that provides a channel for reporting conduct and behaviour that falls short of our expected standards.
We encourage anyone with concerns to contact the service.