A woman awarded an Australian record damages claim for
work-related sexual harassment says she can finally start to
move on after the payment was upheld.
Chartered accountant Jemma Ewin was awarded $476,163 in
December 2013 after a judge found co-worker Claudio Vergara
had unwanted sex with her after work drinks in Melbourne in
Mr Vergara appealed the finding on a number of grounds but
the Federal Court dismissed the appeal yesterday.
Speaking outside court, Ms Ewin said she was very pleased.
"It's vindicated a very long five year fight for justice and
confirms Justice Bromberg's decision handed down in December
2013," she told reporters.
"I was subjected to the most disgusting sexual harassment by
a fellow employee."
Ms Ewin said she had not worked since November 2010, suffered
ill-heath and had lost her home.
Ms Ewin and Mr Vergara were working at the same office in
Melbourne in May 2009.
After hearing the evidence in court last year, Justice
Mordecai Bromberg found Mr Vergara engaged in unwanted sexual
conduct with Ms Ewin at the office, after they went to a bar
Ms Ewin said she had no memory of the incident because she
was heavily intoxicated.
The judge also found Mr Vergara had made sexual remarks to Ms
Ewin in days leading up to the incident.
Mr Vergara, who was present for the appeal judgment, has
never been charged with any sexual offence in relation to Ms
Ewin though the matter was reported to police.
He will have to pay Ms Ewin's costs for the appeal on top of
$210,563 he has been ordered to pay towards the damages
Mr Vergara's legal representative said it would be
financially crippling for him and his family, and asked for a
stay on some related proceedings.
Ms Ewin also claimed outside court that Victoria Police
mishandled the associated criminal matter and called for an
"Unless you are prepared to sacrifice everything for justice
you are pushed aside and told just forget about it, get on
with your life," she said.