TV reporter claims she was sacked after having baby

  • 29/03/2017

An Australian TV reporter is claiming unfair dismissal against her former employer Channel 7 and plans to take her case to Australia's top court.

Weekend Sunrise Newsreader Talitha Cummins claims she was sacked by the network while on maternity leave, and Seven West Media has been served a legal notice of Cummins' intention to persevere with the case through to the Federal Court.

She said the issue at stake was an important one, not only for her, personally, but for many women she's observed.

"Many aren't in a position to defend their workplace rights. I'm in the fortunate position where I can," she told News Corp Australia.

"I also have a child now and I feel it's important to set an example for him about respect for women in the workplace."

Efforts to resolve the dispute between the two parties have failed, which has led to legal action.

Cummins said she never wanted bad blood with the network, and that it was unfortunate they hadn't been able to reach anything like a reasonable settlement.

She gave birth to her son Oliver last year, and was told her contract would not be renewed shortly after.

Prior to taking leave Cummins had worked the Saturday and Sunday shifts since 2014.

Seven News chief Craig McPherson is understood to have phoned Cummins nine weeks after the birth and informed her she would not be returning to her weekend newsreading role.

It is reported she was told she was no longer under contract, but could return to a weekday 5am slot instead. It is understood to have been a six-month position.

However, this offer was rejected, believed to be due to the temporary nature of the role, more hours added for no extra money, and the impact on her family life.

But Seven disputes her allegations, with a spokesperson stating Cummins was employed as a casual newsreader at the network.

"She was offered a network newsreader role, with fewer hours and the same pay. She was given over two months to determine whether she wanted the new role but decided not to take up the offer."

The spokesperson said Cummins was "never dismissed" and was never required to work at 2am as contended in her claim.

"It is disappointing Ms Cummins would continue in this matter and we will strongly defend our position."

Announcing her pregnancy on air last year, fellow colleagues expressed congratulations and anticipation at the 36-year-old's return, which may prove crucial in assessing the strength of her case.

In taking on Australia's top rating network, Cummins is adding to a chain of disputes associated with the broadcaster, with multiple female employees having alleged mistreatment.