back to article Harassed Oracle employee wins case, cops huge legal bill

Rebecca Richardson, the former Oracle employee who recently won a case against the company over sexual harassment committed by a former colleague, found out late last week that it was a pyrrhic victory after being hit with a monster legal bill. Richardson's case against Oracle, which was liable for the actions of a harassing …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same law is in the UK.

    You takes your chances..........

    1. Johan Bastiaansen
      FAIL

      You takes your chances..........

      Yes, but she won.

      Had she lost, would Oracle have to pick up the bill?

      1. Mark 65

        Re: You takes your chances..........

        Also, the perverse Australian legislation means that they offer $1 or similarly non-covering amount perhaps not taking the piss as much, you reject, then it's hard to get awarded greater costs afterwards?

        Seriously, how can she have a bill of $224k but be awarded costs of $18k and have to pay Oracle's bill when they lost? That is one seriously f*cked up piece of legislation right there. In my opinion what this wanker of a judge is saying is "fuck you, don't sue". Totally nuts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You takes your chances..........

          suggest you read it again, costs are NOT what the $18k is for

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Mark 65

            Re: You takes your chances..........

            Oh my god, are you that naive? Settling out of court is there precisely in order to not admit culpability. It's what corporations do in the US all the time. Taking them to court is, in part, about getting them to be found culpable. A blot on the copybook for future cases.That you should be left out of pocket after winning merely cements the "justice for the rich only" image of the legal system. In local parlance, get a clue.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. E_Nigma
                Stop

                Re: You takes your chances..........

                Symon, we're not talking about a pint here and that does make a difference. I'm not for people getting fired over a bad joke, but sexual harassment is a somewhat different issue than a couple $ of beer. Also, you're forgetting (not reading carefully?) what others (Mark) are writing. The settlement out of court means the company remains free of any guilt in the matter in the eye of the law. Again, that's okay for an accidentally spilled pint, not for sexual harassment.

                And if you did something and you want to do right by the person you've wronged, then admit to the court straight-up and you'll keep the legal fees to a bare minimum. If, on the other hand, you're guilty and you abused your financial and legal resources to drag the person you've already wronged and the state into a prolonged and expensive court case, that should count against you, not the other person.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: You takes your chances..........

                    "The object of civil law is the redress of wrongs by compelling compensation or restitution: the wrongdoer is not punished; he only suffers so much harm as is necessary to make good the wrong he has done. The person who has suffered gets a definite benefit from the law, or at least he avoids a loss." - even by that definition, this case is wrong as the woman is clearly the person who has suffered, yet still incurred a loss. The wrongdoer here does not seem to have had any loss (or punishment).

                  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: You takes your chances..........

                    And not only was there no crime here - but the not-crime wasn't committed by Oracle.

                    So it's more like someone spilling your point - your lawyers deciding that the person hasn't enough money to be worth suing and so suing Carlsberg, because they have $billions, for not doing enough to prevent pint spilling.

                  3. E_Nigma
                    Meh

                    Re: You takes your chances..........

                    Okay, that clarifies a lot. I still find it a little weird that this kind of a case ended up as a civil lawsuit, which effectively degrades the issue to the same level of triviality as a spilled pint or a damaged fence, but it is what it is. Her lawyer ought to have warned her about the financial outcome, though.

              2. koolholio
                WTF?

                Re: You takes your chances..........

                @Symon

                In the UK that could be tricky, since the circumstances of bumping the elbow would be taken into account. Given that presumably, the spilling of the pint is a sub-effect of bumping your elbow and the intention.

                Criminal legislation in the UK does somewhat cover this, such as the protection from harassment act / equality act and other legislation may touch upon it (for instance in the computer world, communications act / misuse of computers act / data protection act)

                The likelyness is, they would plead not guilty in court, normally, just to bump the cost in a typical 'victory for the victor' duel, which actually then makes it economically unviable from the offset for the average joe that may have to pay for rectification of the matter also (e.g. mental health).

              3. JeffUK
                Thumb Up

                Re: You takes your chances..........

                Perfect analogy.. I knew about this point of law, but now I GET it :)

            2. PhilDin

              Re: You takes your chances..........

              But the purpose of civil litigation is not to blot anybody's anything, it's to put right a wrong that has happened to you specifically. So if the defendant offers to put things right for you then it's job done and continuing with the case is wasting everyone's time. I think we can all agree that the best civil lawsuit is the one that never happens. One way that judges can reduce the amount of litigation is to ask whether a reasonable offer to settle has been made. If it was, then the court's time has been tied up with an issue that has already been solved.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You takes your chances..........

            Because usually the offer to settle out of court is on a "no admission of liability" basis. I find that immoral, and would prefer to see them lose in court, even if it resulted in lesser damages. As to the issue of costs, because the out-of-court offer with it's non-admission of fault was not the same as a verdict of the court, which carries with it an attribution of fault, comparing monetary amounts is like comparing apples and oranges.

            1. James Micallef Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: You takes your chances..........

              "the offer to settle out of court is on a "no admission of liability" basis. I find that immoral"

              Agree with this, one of the great things of western court systems is that things are public. Gagging orders on settlements pervert this

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You takes your chances..........

          If oracle had offered $AUD17,999 then they would have had to pick up the bill.

          The key point is that she rejected a larger offer.

          The bill for $AUD224k is the bill for her lawyers. Lawyers don't work for nothing and Oracle actually paid a large chunk of her legal bills. They paid up until she rejected their offer of $AUS85,000.

          The courts look at it this way. If a company makes a reasonable settlement offer then you are liable for all costs of both the company and yourself if you reject it. A reasonable offer is one which is more than what the court ends up awarding. Why should Oracle suffer the costs run up after a reasonable offer was made and rejected?

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      WTF??

      "she will remain solely responsible for the payment of the bulk of her own legal costs and obliged to pay a high proportion of the legal costs of the respondents. "

      So not only does she have to pay all her own legal bills, but she has to pay some of Oracle's costs as well? That is TOTALLY f***ed up, Australia!

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: WTF??

        "she will remain solely responsible for the payment of the bulk of her own legal costs and obliged to pay a high proportion of the legal costs of the respondents. "

        If you read that as; "she will be obliged to pay a high proportion of the legal costs of the respondents which would not have been incurred had she accepted the settlement offered which were greater than the court ultimately decided she deserved to get " you might she why she is responsible for those costs from a legal perspective.

        How she came to rack-up $200K+ costs on a claim which was worthy of only $18K compensation is a good question but that is not the court's problem nor the defendant's. That she was out of pocket even when the $85K was offered is unfortunate but she chose which way to go; take that or risk losing even more. Given the costs were so disproportionate to the compensation ( even if it had been $85K or greater ) I would be surprised if the court had ordered Oracle to pay her costs in full.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: WTF??

          @Jason Bloomberg - I get the analysis, and in this particular case this makes sense especially as compensation awarded was about 1/4 of the settlement.

          But on a more general case, this leaves complainants too much at the mercy of a court's whim - say I declined 50k compensation, the court can rule in my favour and award me 51k (in which case I don't have to pay any fees), or else can award me 49k (in which case I need to pay all my legal fees plus some of the defendants', leaving me majorly out of pocket). The way the law is designed, it encourages complainants to accept any small settlement because going to court is too much of a gamble.

          In this specific case, one has to wonder how come a quarter of a million dollars worth of legal counsel did not warn the woman of the likelihood of this happening. Or perhaps they warned her and she went ahead anyway against their advice?

  2. LarsG

    Did she want to make a point, was it a matter of principle to have her day and win in court rather than settle. Or was it bad advice from her lawyers acting on a no win no fee basis who were greedy?

    What the hell, take the lawyers to court....

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Devil

      Re: principle

      "A principle is not a principle until it has cost you money" - as she has just found out. Harsh lesson to learn, though.

      Spawn of Satan icon for the lawyers. Well, why not?

      GJC

    2. koolholio
      Joke

      Wouldn't one need a lawyer/barrister for that also?

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Pirate

        Not necessarily.

        I have successfully sued a firm of lawyers over an unpaid invoice, without using a lawyer. I was, I confess, rather nervous...

        GJC

  3. Trustme

    Surely if her legal council had advised her not to settle and to pursue the matter then that is bad advice and she could have a case to claim they have failed in discharging their responsibility to provide sound advice and not pay them? Although given that they're lawyers there's probably a clause indemnifying them.

  4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Uhh...

    Can any legal eagles explain why the successful plaintiff has to pay a substantial (or even any) proportion of the defendant's costs?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Uhh...

        Well yes, it seems that they want to encourage people to settle rather than take up the court's time, thought the sledgehammer of substantial financial punishment for not making that decision, as we've seen here.

        But I'm more interested in the motivation of whoever wrote the (seemingly ridiculous, on the face of it) clause in law that led to this.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Uhh... @Sorry

          What you mean the insane compensation culture free for all created under the current UK legislation is actually better?

          Where insurance and product costs are driven through the roof by claims pursued by lawyers soley on the basis of their compensation cut - regardless of the actual harm in the case?

          Its all very well to have a potential for financial redress for various events - when no consideration is made for where the money comes from. - Ultimately the ordinary consumer one way or another either in higher product prices, higher taxes or higher insurance costs.

          In this case - the judge/jury obviously agreed that the lady in question had been discriminated - however suffered minimal harm as a result - given the paltry payout.

          Now she will probably have to declare bankrupcy as a result of owing her lawyers such a rediculous amount - and may have far worse employment prospects - plus effectively not get any Credit products for the rest of her life.

          1. Aldous
            Trollface

            Re: Uhh... @Sorry

            so i take it you are quite happy with your Ford Pinto?

          2. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: Uhh... @Sorry

            What's better is this: if you owe someone money because you have done something wrong, you pay every cent of what you owe, plus every cent of what it takes to get that money out of you.

            The settlement offer did not cover costs up to the time the settlement was offered, according to the article, so she would have already suffered a net loss, although a smaller one, had she accepted it.

            Oracle then of course could always sue the harassing employee for its legal bill.

          3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Uhh... @Sorry

            "What you mean the insane compensation culture free for all created under the current UK legislation is actually better?"

            Please point out where I said that.

            Cheers.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Uhh...

          "Well yes, it seems that they want to encourage people to settle rather than take up the court's time"

          Almost certainly, but there is a contradiction here with the general obsession in courts with case law. So, if you want to make a case into a precedent which helps other people in the future (which is possible the case here) then you HAVE to push through to a final legal decision. At which point the court claims that you've wasted its time.

          Bloody lawyers.

          1. mike2R

            Re: Uhh...

            "So, if you want to make a case into a precedent which helps other people in the future (which is possible the case here) then you HAVE to push through to a final legal decision. At which point the court claims that you've wasted its time."

            Just playing devil's advocate (ha!) but if she was offered a settlement that was significantly higher than he award, then she doesn't seem to have suceeded in adding anything extra to the case law. So either she was after some additional judgement that she failed to get, or the settlement was all she was ever likely to achieve (in the opinion of the court). In either case I can see some justification for the other side not to have to cover their own costs beyond that point.

            Completely ignorant of the case though, which is never a good position to form opinions from.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Uhh...

              "Just playing devil's advocate (ha!) but if she was offered a settlement that was significantly higher than he award, then she doesn't seem to have suceeded in adding anything extra to the case law. So either she was after some additional judgement that she failed to get, or the settlement was all she was ever likely to achieve (in the opinion of the court)"

              Well, there's also the bit in the article that says Oracle offered her $84,000 to settle, but her court costs were by that time $224,000. So had she accepted, she'd have to find $140,000 to pay legal fees ... that probably influenced her deciding not to accept that offer, don't you think?

              Personally I can't see how winning a court case on every count, against a multi-billion dollar multi-national, then finding you're 6 figures in the red is anything short of bat-shit crazy, as legal systems go. You're essentially making it impossible for any individual to bring a case against a large company, because even if they win, they risk personal bankruptcy, whereas the multi-national, who employ full-time lawyers as a matter of course, just shrugs, and moves on.

              1. mike2R

                Re: Uhh...

                Unless I'm misunderstanding the article, I think Oracle paid for the costs of both sides up to the point of the offer.

                1. mike2R

                  Re: Uhh...

                  (why no edit function)Perhaps that is only their costs though.

              2. Turtle

                Damages

                "Personally I can't see how winning a court case on every count, against a multi-billion dollar multi-national, then finding you're 6 figures in the red is anything short of bat-shit crazy, as legal systems go. "

                Damages to the defendant are determined objectively (or, if you prefer, impartially) by the courts. If Oracle has to pay her legal bills, then the damages that Oracle has to pay are being determined by the complainant's lawyers. (I am classing any money paid to the complainant, including court and legal costs, as damages here. Technically that would be in correct but it will pass muster here.)

                The solution, as far as I see, is that the party bringing suit has to have lawyers who agree that their maximum fee can not be more than the award that will be obtained. Complainant needs to seek a lawyer who will agree to such terms.

                And in any event, the lawyers need to know what a reasonable expectation of the award will be: that's one of the bits of specialized knowledge that lawyers can be expected to have; award judgements are not made in a vacuum and generally fall in line with past awards. If she chose lawyers who did not have such knowledge, or if she insisted on proceeding with the suit because she was not satisfied with Oracle's settlement offer in spite of warnings from her lawyers about her potential award being less than the potential legal bills, then there's no one to blame but herself.

                And I am not saying that the complainant looked at this as an opportunity to get rich quick with a multi-million dollar award, but maybe that was a factor too.

                1. Tom 13

                  Re: Damages

                  Having dealt with "knowledgeable lawyers", no you won't. The one thing even the bad ones seem to have learned in law school is to add the disclaimer "but you never know what's going to happen when you take it to a jury" as well as the importance of making sure they can collect their fees.

                  I expect the earlier posters are correct: she was looking for the 'defendant is guilty as charged' part, which wasn't part of the offer. Without that, even with a substantially better payoff, there is a certain sense of 'because the defendant was filthy rich, he got away with it.' Also, once the company has made an offer, whatever small obligation they may have originally felt to contain costs is now completely gone. All they have to do is make sure they run up their end of the legal bill, and the plaintiff loses anyway.

                  I'm sympathetic to the "loser pays" argument I've seen floated so many times in discussions about legal reforms. And the reason given for it is that it would make parties think more carefully about their suites. I see the motivation behind the Australia rules as being the same one. The reason I haven't been able to support that argument is I foresee it having the same perverse outcome as we have in this case. The evil perps already have the best paid lawyers on speed dial, and after they're freed, the victim has to pay their legal costs too.

        3. Johan Bastiaansen
          Thumb Up

          it seems that they want to encourage people to settle rather than take up the court's time,

          Ooohhh, "taking up the court's time". I thought it was the taxpayers money that paid their salaries, their nice buildings. But when you need them you're taking up their time?

          Since they don't want the taxpayer to take up their time, I suggest we fire the lot. That way they can go fishing and golfing whenever they want and they won't be taking up the taxpayers money.

          Seems like a win-win situation to me.

  5. Shagbag

    Where's the justice here?

    This is a tragedy and does the legal profession no favours.

    With all of the media attention on her case, the best thing her lawyers could do would be to make a public statement that they will be waiving her legal bill.

    It would have the effect of drawing further attention to her case (and the fact that her lawyers won it for her) and would put the law firm in a favourable position with the general public (opposite to the current view).

    Such a move would be commerciall shrewd, but then few lawyers have commercial acumen.

    1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

      Re: Where's the justice here?

      The decision on whether to litigate further beyond the offer was the client's. The plaintiff's lawyers should have explained very clearly to her the likely consequences of rejecting an offer. If they didn't, that was improper of them. If they did, they can't help that she ended up out of pocket.

      Some people want their day in court no matter what the cost - some people want to be vindicated.

      1. Johan Bastiaansen
        Angel

        some people want to be vindicated

        She should have hired the A-team instead?

        What purpose does the justice system think they have in a society? Should we pay them just to have the pleasure of looking at their smug faces? Or should they actually contribute to society by giving people the impression there is some justice after all?

        I really want to know.

  6. Johan Bastiaansen
    Devil

    few lawyers have commercial acumen

    I don't know, they seem to be doing ok.

    But you put the blame with her legal team. The total legal bill is more than the cost of her legal team. There's the cost of Oracles lawyers and there's cost for forensics and expert witnesses.

    Also the self declared very smart and important people that voted the bill. The walk away from this without being named & shamed?

  7. graeme leggett

    The offer

    Was Oracle's offer a "here's the cash, let's never talk of this again" offer or a "yes, we were in the wrong, you were treated badly but we think this is a reasonable sum to cover legal costs and your suffering"?

    In the first case if taken up, while outsiders might suspect it was an admission of guilt, it's not been made clear and she would not be able to say that she was harassed while working at Oracle, there might also be some residual stigma/rumours implying that she made it up, "couldn't take the heat", "what do you expect from a woman" etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The offer

      If the offer was an out of court settlement, then they are almost always on the basis that it is not an admission of guilt. This means that many people turn down such offers and continue with their case in order to get an unequivocal admission of guilt. The problem is that some companies make offers even when they honestly believe they are not in the wrong, simply to get the case over and done with. Other companies go down to the wire without making an offer even when they know they're in the wrong in the hope that the stress of it all will cause the accuser to drop the case.

  8. Gray
    Childcatcher

    Re: Where's the justice here?

    Ordinary citizens are conditioned to expect justice from the government; the privileged class is educated to expect a legal framework that works to their advantage.

    Rarely do justice and the law coincide. Mostly they coincide either by accident, oversight, or some stupidly egregious transgression that cannot be overlooked. In no case is 'justice' a determinant factor.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Where's the justice here?

      I've got a judge on record as saying, "Keeping the cost and delays down (for the state) is more important than getting to the truth." So I concur that judges have a difference notion of "justice" to the naive one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's the justice here?

        I have a unicorn with a curly horn, therefore all unicorns have curly horns QED.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Where's the justice here?

      Not many people understand that for most lawyers and judges, 'justice' is a procedural concept, not a moral one.

      This surprised me when I found out, but according to people familiar with the matter that's how most of the profession sees it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's the justice here?

        Indeed. My family lawyer is of the view (though wouldn't admit it en clair) that if the evidence presented is, say, contrary to the laws of physics, so much the worse for the laws of physics. The fact is that law is designed to function in a morality, philosophy and science free vacuum, because this is more profitable for lawyers.

        1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

          Re: Where's the justice here?

          "The fact is that law is designed to function in a morality, philosophy and science free vacuum, because this is more profitable for lawyers."

          That's misplaced here, though. The whole point of penalising people who refuse to accept perfectly decent settlement offers is to stop them litigating everything to death and then demanding the other side cops the massive legal bills that they have run up. The rule /discourages/ the unnecessary use of lawyers.

      2. Johan Bastiaansen
        Happy

        'justice' is a procedural concept

        Indeedy. But all this nonsense goes out the window when they become a victim eh...

  9. g e
    FAIL

    WTF?

    We rule in your favour now we're going to turn your life to shit materially on top of your emotional harm.

    How the hell is that justice under any system.

    1. Mark 65

      Re: WTF?

      "Welcome to Australia, fuck you, get over it"

      Seems to be the legal spirit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF?

      It's Australia... who did we formerly ship to Australia?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. David Ireland

    Settlement + costs

    There's something not right here: An offer of compromise is meant to cover the the claimants costs, or it's irrelevant. Either the fact that the costs up to the point of the offer is reported in the article is a red herring, or it appears the judge made a serious error in taking the offer of compromise into account.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Settlement + costs

      An offer of settlement is whatever those offering it believe is fair in their mind regardless what the claimant thinks. The claimant can either choose to accept it or proceed with their claim.

      I might believe your claim against me merits £10 compensation and I may offer £50 as a gesture of goodwill and to cover what I believe your reasonable costs would have been. I am not going to entertain your claim for £1,000 nor am I obliged to.

      You may consider my £50 offer derisory but the court has to take it into account if you take it to court and they will take my side if they think the same as me that £50 was generous. I tried to settle and minimise costs for you, me and the court. You decided to go ahead no matter what the cost so you end up paying those, yours and mine, even if you win the case. I already gave you 'a win' but it wasn't good enough; the court is saying it was and should have been.

  11. Daggersedge

    Good!

    So someone made some 'sexually suggestive' comments to her and she rushed off to court. I'm glad she has been left with huge costs because maybe it will make other women think twice before they bleat about their 'emotional injuries' or sexism or whatever other nonsense comes out of their mouths.

    I'm a woman and one of the reasons I wouldn't hire a woman is because some of them find everything to be sexist. They should grow up or stay out of the work place. They should also learn that if they want to have a baby, they should do it on their own time and not expect anyone else to pay them or hold a job open for them.

    1. cocknee
      Big Brother

      Re: Good!

      You sound like a bundle of laughs, think most would hate to work for/with a miserable selfish spiteful old witch like you sound. Though I'm sure there's some concentration camps somewhere in the world that could do with your touch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        Re: Good!

        Actually, she sounds like her head is screwed on.

        You call one of these "emotionally sensitive" women (or "men") a name and see how long it takes to wipe the smile off your face as you are dragged through a process which, in all probability, will result in a fine / losing your job etc etc...

        A slighty off-the-cuff remark these days will land you in a load of trouble because we are so entrenched in not offending people its now not even funny.....

        I work with em, i once told my colleugue that our new team leader was a "twat", quietly between myself and him. Some politically correct, offended by anything lesbian tree hugger heard this and off she went reporting me... I had offended her by calling HIM a twat, she had just overheard me whilst walking past and that was enough for a full investigation into why i thought he was a class 1 twat, why i shouldn't have said it and how it's not done these days... I'm 44, not 21 and having some farty little 20 year old report me shows what a fucking joke this system of political correctness is. I shall be glad when i expire. Our planet and future standing is being ruined by people who cannot see beyond their own imposed moral standards.....

        All these people with these "issues" should all be taken to somewhere where real abuse happens, a place where, for the perpatrators there tends to be no recriminations and the victim is ostracised...

        They would soon shut the fuck up about being called "love" or "darling" or whatever...

        Offence is taken, not given and its all to easy these days to scream "i've been insulted", then sit back, waiting for the vultures (lawyers) to jump on the band wagon.

        That daft cow who took offence at a dongle joke a few weeks ago and had some innocent chap sacked.. THATS the kind of loose emotionally tetchy idiot we DONT want in the workplace.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: should all be taken to somewhere where real abuse happens

          I've often had the same thought.

          Followed almost immediately by a small voice saying "Except they'd probably fit right in with the rest of the abusers, and might even surpass some of them with their vileness."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good!

      @Daggersedge - "I'm a woman"

      And I'm a dog

    3. Ru
      Meh

      Re: Good!

      I'm a woman and

      You very clearly are not.

      1. mark 63 Silver badge

        Re: Good!

        "You very clearly are not."

        Well after trawling through dagger's past posts like a deranged stalker I can confirm She is , in fact, a woman.

        Or damn serious about maintaining the illusion

    4. Tom 13

      Re: Good!

      Yes those kinds of women are out there. Based on what's been reported in this article, she doesn't seem to be one of them.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good!

      If you were to read not just this article but the linked preceding article, you might have noticed that the harassment had been carried out over several months, and that there were eleven incidents in all. More over, some of these incidents occurred in meetings, and were considered by those present as unnecessary and inappropriate. This all accumulates to harassment, with or without the sexual overtones of the incidents.

      You will also note that she reported these incidents to her manager, who referred them to HR, who then failed to investigate and resolve the problems satisfactorily in part because Oracle Australia were not compliant with Australian laws over such matters.

      If you then follow the link to the court document, you might get an idea as to just how bad the whole mess was. It wasn't just that she was being subjected to 'suggestive' comments, but that they were being delivered in public, so were particularly embarrassing. What surprises me is that no one else stepped in to take the salesman responsible to task before it went so far as to require HR involvement, and certainly should have been stopped well before she took it to court.

      As to your last comment about why you would never hire a woman: If you are indeed a woman, I trust you intend to remain firmly unemployed. You are certainly not someone I would ever wish to work for.

    6. nsld
      Childcatcher

      Re: Good! @daggersedge

      "I'm a woman and one of the reasons I wouldn't hire a woman is because some of them find everything to be sexist. They should grow up or stay out of the work place. They should also learn that if they want to have a baby, they should do it on their own time and not expect anyone else to pay them or hold a job open for them."

      On the one hand I don't disagree with you, but equally, as a male with kids, why does the law not afford me the same protections it affords to women over maternity/paternity leave?

      In this age of equality we still have many inequalities to contend with.

      Interestingly, the femonazi's bang on about equal rights in the workplace but I have never once heard them say that men should have the same rights afforded to women over maternity/paternity.

      1. mark 63 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Good! @daggersedge

        Stan: I want to have babies.

        Reg: You want to have babies?!?!

        Stan: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.

        Reg: But ... you can't HAVE babies!

        Stan: Don't you oppress me!

        Reg: I'm not oppressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb! Where's the foetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?

      2. magrathea

        Re: Good! @daggersedge

        We can only afford to give special, elevated consideration to the problems one sex - If everyone (men included) claimed women’s special societal benefits (legal and societal) , the whole system would collapse. Women get these benefits because women are conditioned from childhood to expect special preferential treatment from males and men are conditioned to accept the hit without complaint. Society couldn't work if men were made legally equal to women. Please try to be practical about this

    7. Johan Bastiaansen
      Devil

      Re: Good!

      I didn't know the Australian branch of the Taliban recruited women. How very open minded of them.

  12. Miek
    Big Brother

    The courts are for the rich folk to use don't you know ?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bit of a non-story, really

    If you go to law, it's probably a good idea to (a) learn a little about it, and (b) listen to what the experts *you* pay tell you.

    In the UK, and it seems Australia, and most US states, it is not automatic that "loser pays costs". It may be a general principle, but costs are awarded at the discretion of the judge. And occasionally, judges can rule to make a point.

    There was a case recently in the UK (neighbour dispute), where because the plaintiffs had turned down a previous offer, the judge refused to award costs. They appealed it to the supreme court, who upheld it.

    What people forget, is - by definition - going to court is a last resort. There is no more (lawful !) extreme action. Therefore, it follows, that the plaintiff must have tried everything else first. Judges really do people whose first action is sue.

    The flipside is that plaintiffs who *have* exhausted all other avenues - and can show it - judges can be very sympathetic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit of a non-story, really

      "In the UK, and it seems Australia, and most US states, it is not automatic that "loser pays costs". It may be a general principle, but costs are awarded at the discretion of the judge"

      This is factually incorrect, as the article makes entirely clear. The judge was unable to award costs, on a point of law.

      Incidentally, the Supreme Court in the UK does not entertain cases of neighbour dispute. They just don't. It's not their remit. They deal with cases of constitutional importance that affect the entire population. Where boundary fences lie doesn't really cut it.

      So not to put too fine a point on it, you're just making shit up. Who knows why.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        @AC 9:08

        Ah, found it. It was the *High* court that ruled.

        A small error of fact,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC 9:08

          "A small error of fact"

          No, not really, it's the exact opposite of the register article, and the opposite of the point you were trying to make. The couple in that story lost their court case, and had to pay the costs of the case. They appealed that decision and lost.

          The article is about someone who won their court case, but ended up with a huge bill, because the amount they won didn't cover court costs.

          These are not in any way the same thing. Why do you think they are?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit of a non-story, really

      except in the case of patent law in which case judges seem to let it go on forever

  14. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lawyeres and solicitors

      I am curious why you are referring to her as "allegedly harrassed". The court found in her favour, so she was definitely harassed, whatever else might be disputed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lawyeres and solicitors

        That's Eadon. He doesn't like women or Microsoft.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Mr Young
            Pint

            Re: Lawyeres and solicitors

            Ladies and Gentlemen - I do believe we've managed to resurrect an armchair warrior! Exciting stuff - or has Eadon actually ever managed to make anything that works in his life? I'll stand corrected if so.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Michael Thibault

          Re: Lawyeres and solicitors

          Uhm... If you do not trust judges (to, presumably, arrive at a determination of the facts e.g. that harassment did actually occur), then who do you trust to make such determinations?

          After the say-so of the justice system is dismissed, what is there but one or another variation on roving gangs of sweaty, unwashed individuals driving technicals around the countryside and forcing the unarmed civilians to conform to arbitrary interpretations of an ad-hoc accumulation of 'rules' or 'laws' without much in the way of supporting precedent or avenues of appeal? If, as seems likely, this is so, then by changing the basis of law-giving to might (as in "Might makes right'), you are necessarily allowing for the possibility that more/smarter/bigger guns could fairly supplant the current crop ('mightier makes rightier'). In other words, discounting the say-so of the justice system is to suggesst that the 'law of the jungle' should prevail--but in such circumstances you'd have to accept as fair whatever happens to you if it happens to you because someone with more power, sharper teeth, or longer claws decided you looked like a worhtwhile snack.

  15. Alan Mackenzie
    WTF?

    $224,000??

    How on earth did her lawyers manage to run up such a huge bill? It seems like an "ordinary" sexual harrassment case, not a round of Apple vs. Samsung.

    Even if the lawyers were charging $500/hour (which seems excessive to me), that would work out at ~450 hours of work. What, precisely, did her lawyers spend several hundred hours doing?

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: $224,000??

      Playing with a spreadsheet and cackling, at a guess.

      1. Miek
        Linux

        Re: $224,000??

        Yeah, the new office layout is a Doozy, I'll factor 450 hours into retraining costs.

    2. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: $224,000??

      Lawyers have different rates for procedural issues. If a judge is in involved costs skyrocket, ostensibly because of more paperwork. $500 per hour is not that high for a lawyer and there are often multiple specialty lawyers from the firm working simultaneously on a case, so it is easy to hit several thousand an hour in collection cases.

  16. John Savard Silver badge

    Another Target

    Since Oracle in the end lost the case, the fact that it offered to settle should be irrelevant; it is at fault, no court case would have existed had it behaved rightly. The only other party at fault is the employee who was the actual harasser. An offer to settle that leaves the plaintiff out of pocket can hardly be called compensatory, and hence the plaintiff should not be penalized for being unreasonable and needlessly burdening the legal system.

    1. magrathea

      Re: Another Target

      On the other hand, if they make a reasonable offer, Oracle are only wrong to the degree / value of the actual grievance. If Oracle scratches my car, i shouldn't get to refuse reasonable offers, hire the most expensive lawyer i can find and pass them the bill for the lawyer

  17. Bhairava
    Big Brother

    Rule 68

    In the US, in order to get the same result, Oracle would have had to offer compensation *plus* all of her costs and attorneys fees as of the date the company made the offer. That's also not considered an out-of-court settlement. It's an offer of judgment; and (if accepted) a judgment is entered against the company. The Supreme Court mucked up the system a bit in a weird little decision just last week, but that's essentially still how it works.

  18. Snake Plissken

    This is the same law...

    That means all those cases of phone hacking against News Corp are being settled out of court.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Morale of the story lesson #101

    All a bunch of horse manure if you ask me... Sorry, was that offensive? ... To a reasonable third party it would be considered such, but there is exclusion for demonstative/educational purpose.

    But, if you can't beat erm, join erm... (but thats inciteful) ... oh and, unless they have the bigger wallet?

    It should not be treated as a game of monopoly.

  20. arnold

    When every thing fails!

    It seems that this lady was setup since the get go and no matter what your legal algorithm is, there is always the resort of the method to deal with this situation .... It is clear that Australian laws are made ambiguous intentionally to benefit the party of choice by the judicial system, not by right or wrong to dissuade people from asserting any rights.... So the only recourse for anybody in such a situation would be a stiletto switchblade

    or an automatic .45 ....

  21. mark 63 Silver badge
    Flame

    Blood suckers

    As usual the only winners are the blood sucking lawyers.

    They should be on a set wage - that of an admin clark.

    How the F**k does it cost £1000 (and about 2 months) to change ownership of a house?

    Licence to print money......

    And most of thems job is aid and abet crimnals!! yet somehow this is a lauded professor.

  22. arnold

    Perfect laws!

    Lets assume that the laws offer a wide latitude to resolve disputes ... and it is up to the lawyers to present the arguments in support of the litigants, but if those lawyers fail to represent and make use of all the case law to support their claims and damages ... the judge has no choice but to limit the award for what their bargain for .

    And who says the plaintiff lawyers did not got paid? .... they might got paid to arrive at the exact result that they got! .... they got paid to drive the case to the ground.

    Who knows a law firm that works so hard towards a loosing result without anticipating the end?

    Those are the questions to ponder. Not Australia or England ....

  23. arrbee

    wouldn't happen in the UK

    because if you take on a big company in the High Court the first thing they will try, before the case starts, is to ask the court to require that you post a surety (bond) to show you can afford their costs if you lose - typically somewhere north of 100K. The music biz use this tactic to keep stroppy musos in their place, although I've heard they can act quite peeved if the demand is reciprocated (a useful tactic if you're dealing with the usual maze of subsidiaries, distributors, etc).

  24. nsld
    Paris Hilton

    This kind of thing is pretty common

    In both the UK and Australia there is a legal term called a "Calderbank offer" which very basically means you make an offer, and if its not accepted and ultimately the court award is lower then costs are apportioned from the date of the offer to the party which continued the fight.

    The problem with this arises when the party, despite the legal advice to take the offer opts to continue and then in victory finds the award is much lower.

    All legal cases are ultimately a bit of a lottery, even more so when the damages are speculative, and as is the case here, her case clearly had legs but those legs where not long enough.

    It could have been worse, had she lost the bill would be even bigger.

    Paris as she makes bad decisions and gets shafted all the time

  25. arnold

    It all boils down to!

    Lets not lose sight of the victim here ( she won her case to prove it ) ... the moral question is; should the predators be protected at all costs and the prey should be punished to make an example of what not to do?

    .... so the establishment would not loose face?... questions to ponder...

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: It all boils down to!

      Loaded+rhetorical question. Do you mind if I call "Bullshit!"on that?

      What was the plaintiff after in this instance i.e. what, for her, did 'justice' mean? Compensation? Formal recognition by, and in, the court that harassment had occurred? Both simultaneously? That the company made an offer part-way through proceedings could be taken by many, if not most, that they'd acknowledged that she had some basis for bringing the suit. Those a little closer to legal matters would recognize that the offer did not necessarily carry with it an admission of guilt or culpability. That she continued beyond that offer--which, if I read things correctly, brought her up level with respect to her costs to that point in time--suggests strongly that she wanted above all the court's official word on whether or not harassment had occured. She got that.

      However, there's no free lunch, and the rules of the game are known, or knowable. The particular filip here is one she could, and should, have seen coming. It seems the plaintiff got what she wanted; her own actions suggest that that is so. Should she be entitled to more? Apparently no(ugh)t.

      1. arnold

        Re: It all boils down to!

        Lets put it another way...... how about if that lady is your mother, wife, sister or daughter? .... will the outcome matter to you? ..... In this case law and lawyers don't matter, its personal! ...

        There are no rhetorical questions in here, just brutal reality handed over to you by your elected representatives!..

        1. magrathea

          Re: It all boils down to!

          "Lets put it another way...... how about if that lady is your mother, wife, sister or daughter?"

          Let's put it another way; say it's your uncle and he is claiming he was horribly harrased by a woman and deserves 250,000 compensation for all his anguish

  26. Mr. Chuck
    FAIL

    law vs justice

    The legal system is about the law, not about justice, which is quite another thing. Since a civil action is, as mentioned before, about redress and not punishment, if the woman in question refused to settle she was obviously trying to make a point--and if you try that against one of the most famously litiigious and laywered-up corporations on the planet, you only have yourself to blame. Personally I reckon I would have been pretty happy with 85k for some offensive comments, but that's just me. Since I am probably genetically unable to internalise the higher concerns of the sisterhood (being a bloke) I may be all messed up about that.

    This is not to say I have any sympathy whatever for the other side, and I've long believed that 10% of all lawyers should be driven into the sea each year (along with marketing departments and politicians) as a warning to all the others. However, no-one seems disposed to adopt this enlightened policy just yet. So, it is what it is. I think she has either been badly advised, or ignored good advice.

    1. arnold

      Re: law vs justice

      It is obvious, it is pretty hard to modernize feudalism ..... specially by a small country ( population ) .... it would be better to stick with Roman law.... like most modern countries have!...

  27. Havin_it
    Facepalm

    Misdirection, m'lud

    What 100% of commentards have misrepresented here is the actual subject of the case. Everyone debating the issue of harrassment misses the point entirely: it would be the individual perpetrator who was sued/sanctioned for that.

    Rather, the issue at hand was that the woman's employer, a megacorporation who tend to like people and organisations the world over to think they are a decent sort you could take home to meet your mother, *could not be arsed* to take any action to help an employee who was being subjected to ill-treatment by another employee. If it had had the intestinal fortitude, compassion and common bloody sense to put its own house in order, it's likely nobody need have seen the inside of a courtroom, and it would not be left with (as well as a lot of bad press due to this outcome) one employee stigmatised, and one outright annihilated. FFS all it probably would have taken is a light but firm word in his shell-like at an early stage...

  28. Steve I
    Pint

    I think the logic is..

    ...that because you've rejected their fair offer of compensation and then ensured that everyone has to incur yet more costs (which is YOUR choice), then these extra costs are your responsibility. And if they come to more than your compensation, then that's your lookout.

    So your pint gets spilled and the offender offers to buy you 3 pints and pay to have your trousers cleaned (i.e. pay your costs). But no - you reject this and hire scientists and brewers etc to try to prove that your trousers are ruined and need replacing and force the offender to do the same. Eventually, when all is said and done, you only get awarded the cost of your pint but all the scientists etc need paying. The offender shouldn't pay as they offered to settle in the first place (and they weren't trying to weasle out of paying, as they offered more than you finally got), which would have avoided all this.

    The brewers and scientists aren't to blame, either - you hired them.

  29. arnold

    REASONS...

    I think the company got sued because it failed to put a leash on that animal or did not have a proper cage around his cubicle ..... or the company does not have a popper scooper and the natives got restless...

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