Former Oil Search CFO, Ayten Saridas, is suing her former employer for breach of contract and breach of whistleblower protection laws, alleging she was bullied and victimised after raising concerns about corporate wrongdoing.

Australia’s whistleblower protection laws prohibit victimisation of an employee who has made a disclosure of misconduct to an eligible recipient. The laws also impose a reverse onus of proof on the organisation to prove that they have not caused harm to an employee because they have reported concerns about misconduct.  In the context of Ms Saridas’ claim, this would require Oil Search to demonstrate that the bullying and harassment was not taken in response to her disclosure.

In an article published by the Australian Financial Review, Ms Saridas said she is motivated to call out bad behaviour to bring about change.

“There’s no incentive for anyone who sees wrongdoing to take the first step and stand up … there’s no financial incentive, or reputational incentive. It needs to change,” said Saridas.

The whistleblowing protections in the Corporations Act were significantly strengthened in 2019 and have not yet been rigorously tested.  This case is one to watch for both employees and senior executives.

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