Reality TV star 'bullied' on 'hostile' set wins landmark compensation payout
Posted October 23, 2019 10:52 a.m. EDT
CNN — A former reality TV contestant who was portrayed in a negative light while filming Australian renovation show, House Rules, has won a landmark compensation case against Channel Seven.
In a ruling that could have ramifications for reality franchises across the globe, New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission ruled that Nicole Prince was legally an employee of the network when she featured in the program in 2017, despite Seven submitting that she was not an employee.
The tribunal was told that Prince and her team-mate Fiona Taylor were "essentially told to be as negative as possible surrounding the efforts of other contestants" when they appeared in season five of the renovation series.
Prince claimed that they were subsequently "harassed and bullied during the filming," which was "not only condoned by the producer," but "encouraged," according to official documents from the Workers Compensation Commission. CNN has contacted Channel Seven for comment.
She described suicidal thoughts after the program aired and said she faced an onslaught of abuse on social media in the wake of the show.
"Since our episode and program aired, I have not been able to obtain work and have been informed this was due to how I was portrayed as a bully," she said in a statement.
"I feel devastated and worthless about the loss of my career and working life. After my episode aired I wanted to kill myself and I started drinking more alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate my injury."
A 27-page decision published from the finding detailed arbitrator Cameron Burge's summary of the case.
The decision found that the network had a duty of care to Prince, who states she suffered adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of injury caused by Seven's "systematic isolation of myself and encouragement of bullying by co-competitors".
"There is little doubt the applicant was placed in a hostile and adversarial environment," Burge said in his ruling.
He added that there was evidence that the program had been edited "in such a selective manner as to portray them in a certain negative light" and said he found it "extraordinary" that Seven had failed to remove "hateful comments" made about her from its social media pages.
The amount of compensation Prince will receive is yet to be determined.