Conferences

Sussan sued over “humiliating” conference incident involving Kylie Minogue impersonator

Clothing brand Sussan has been levelled an $800,000 lawsuit by a former employee, who says he was coerced into dancing with a Kylie Minogue impersonator at a company event.

In 2015, Ian Richard Billington, 47, was allegedly called on stage at a company national conference in 2015 at the Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick, despite making it clear that he did not want to, and was impelled with “woo-hoos” on the second occasion and physically forced to perform.

An impersonator on stage, Billington claims, then “asked deeply personal and humiliating questions”, The Age reported.

These included asking about his marital status, and about the “presence of his wife (the applicant being in a homosexual relationship)”, and “whether he liked to wear leather hotpants”.

Billington claims he was then “directed to go backstage and be dressed by a female dancer in clothing that was humiliating and belittling”.

He then allegedly returned to the stage where he was required to dance and sing.

Billington claims the incident caused him “nervous shock and psychological injury”, the outlet reported, and that it affected his working life.

“As a result of the said injuries, the plaintiff has since only been able to work over the phone with limited face-to-face contact working a maximum of 18 hours a week,” Billington’s claim reads.

It also states he now suffers from panic attacks, agoraphobia, memory and concentration impairment, sleep disturbance, tremors and shakes, “tics and twitches” and anger, according to The Age.

Billington is asking the County Court to award special damages of around $800,000 for lost past and future income.

Following the incident, Billington attempted to update his statement last year to include battery by Sussan employees, alleging he was injured while being pushed and pulled to the stage – an amendment denied by County Court judge Kathryn Kings.

Three judges on the Victorian Court of Appeal then refused his application for leave to appeal her decision, The Age reported.

Sussan has also reportedly rejected Billington’s assertions, saying in a County Court defence filing the former employee got onstage of his own volition and, “to the extent that he may have been compelled”, it was not relatively expected he would suffer a psychiatric illness.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing on 5 March.

Featured image: Sussan store at Westfield Hornsby (Westfield)

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