Groping after spiking scandal hits PricewaterhouseCoopers

November 14th, 2007 - 8:16 am ICT by admin  
The allegation emerged in a Federal Court on Thursday, where Christina Rich - a one-time senior partner with the accounting giant - is suing her former employer for 10 million dollars.

Rich, who earned almost a million dollars a year as a transfer-pricing expert, claims her career was undermined after she complained about “systematic bullying, and harassment” at work.

In July 2004, she wrote to PwC Chief Executive Tony Harrington, saying she had been subjected to sexual harassment and sex discrimination.

Documents in which she outlined examples of “inappropriate conduct” were released yesterday as Justice Catherine Branson heard arguments about professional privilege.

Writing to seek “the firm’s co-operation in trying to reform and rehabilitate” the company, Rich said there was physical and verbal sexual harassment at PwC events.

“There have also been reports of female employees’ drinks being spiked at firm only events,” she alleged.

Rich was quoted by the as saying that at an event in 2001, an unnamed male partner put his hands up her shirt and tried to remove her bra.

She also wrote that a video featuring a topless woman sun-baking was screened during a presentation at a Melbourne conference in 2004,

“When the video was shown, one of the male partners shouted across the room: ‘Christina, is that you sunbathing?”‘ Ms Rich said.

She claimed there was an acceptance of male partners kissing and putting their arms around their female counterparts, and that some openly refused to work with female employees and partners.

Rich launched legal action against PwC in 2005, seeking up to 10 million dollars for damage to her reputation, loss of clients, lost earnings and medical counselling.

PwC has denies the allegations and is vigorously defending the action.

The hearing in the matter continues today, when lawyers for PwC will fight to have sensitive documents suppressed. (ANI)

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