Network 10 executive producer Maria Michael loses lawsuit

Network 10 executive producer Maria Michael loses lawsuit

  • Maria Michael lost the lawsuit
  • Network 10 taken to court

A former executive producer who worked on hit shows such as Bondi Rescue and The Living Room has lost a court case against her former employer Network 10, amid claims she was owed almost $400,000.

Maria Michael had worked at Network 10 for more than three decades and was making more than $260,000 a year when she was fired in May 2020, ending her “long and storied” career.

Despite being paid out more than $255,000 in various termination rights, Ms Michael launched legal action against Network 10 in 2020 after a dispute over the 12 weeks’ pay she had received as severance pay.

Ms Michael claimed in court that she was instead entitled to 78 weeks’ pay – or $393,371 – because her employment was allegedly covered by the company’s enterprise agreement, which was enforced under Fair Work.

Maria Michael had been employed by Network 10 for more than thirty years when she was fired in May 2020. Photo: Instagram

Judge John Snaden told the Federal Court of Australia on Friday that Ms Michael was not covered by the agreement when she was terminated, and so was not owed the substantial payout she claimed to receive.

“The Enterprise Agreement did not relate to – and therefore did not apply to – Ms Michael’s employment with Network 10. Network 10 was not obliged to pay her any severance pay,” Judge Snaden told the court.

‘The Fair Work Act probably prohibits the court from making any costs order; but in the event that there is an as yet unexplained reason to think otherwise, an application for costs may be made.”

Judge Snaden told the court that Ms Michael’s central contention was that she was employed in or fell within the classification of ‘Producer’ under the Award, and was instead an executive.

“That Ms. Michael occasionally engaged in the performance of non-management duties — while this is undoubtedly her merit — does not detract from that central reality,” Judge Sanden said.

“Ms. Michael was not a production worker who also occasionally oversaw the creation of television shows; she was an executive who managed the production of television shows.

Maria Michael, left.  with Network 10 host Grant Denyer.  Image: Instagram

Maria Michael, left. with Network 10 host Grant Denyer. Image: Instagram

‘The most important and substantial aspect of her work was managing production (in-house or through third parties). That aspect did not correspond to any description in the Award.

‘It follows – or, but would have followed according to my earlier conclusion – that Ms Michael was not employed as a ‘producer’ (…) she did not belong to the group of employees who ‘… fell under the established classifications. out in the Award’.’

The court was told that during her time at Network 10, Ms Michaels was tasked with managing both the network’s and externally produced shows, including Family Feud, Bondi Vet and the Celebrity Name Game.

“There is no doubt – and not really disputed – that Ms Michael’s role was of significant importance to the production of Network 10’s broadcasts,” Judge Snaden said.

‘She (also) operated outside the traditional boundaries of Network 10’s other executive producers, who generally did not do ‘hands-on’ work. There is no doubt that she has done more work on the tools than her executive producer counterparts.”