Brian Burston accused of sexual harassment
Former One Nation Senator Brian Burston has been hit with a claim seeking significant compensation for alleged sexual harassment, sex discrimination and victimisation - including aggravated damages in papers lodged to the Federal Court last week reveal.
But the matter is about to get complicated with Mr Burston already hitting back with damages claims of his own in a separate motion against the same people.
Former Burston staffer Wendy Leach has taken Mr Burston and the Department of Finance to the courts in a filed application seeking damages related to a claim of harassment from when she worked for his office and also post.
According to the claim obtained by News Corp Australia from the Federal Court, Mr Burston "discriminated against her on the ground of sex and engaged in sexually harassing conduct … and committed acts of victimisation against her in contravention" of the Sex Discrimination Act.
She is seeking compensation for past and future economic loss, general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages for Mr Burston contravening the Sex Discrimination Act.
"The applicant's relationship to the second respondent is Mr Burston, as a former Senator, was Ms Leach's employer under the Members of parliament Staff Act while the first respondent (Commonwealth, Dept. of Finance) is vicariously liable for the actions of Mr Burston," the documents state.
It adds Ms Leach has a reasonably arguable case based on the asserted facts in her initial complaint made to the Australian Human Rights Commission and evidence she would not file to the Federal Court.
It is a significant progression with the matter initially lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
A formal response from the Burston legal camp is due in 28 days.
Ms Leach's lawyers yesterday declined to comment.
Mr Burston last year moved to sued One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson for defamation for making the harassment claims on behalf of two of his former staff in social media posts and interviews she gave about an unnamed senator.
"What is disappointing is that this parliament has allowed the horrible treatment of staff to continue without this senator being forced to go through some form of training to prevent poor treatment of his employees," Hanson said in the Senate early last year.
Mr Burston vehemently rejected the claim and his wife Ros said her husband would never use the 'f' word.
Senator Hanson's claims were made in the context of the then senator costing the Australian taxpayer for unfair dismissal settlements. It was around this time Mr Burston openly brawled with Hanson staffer James Ashby in Parliament House near the Great Hall, the scene captured on video.
Mr Burston, was later forced to apologise for smearing blood on Hanson's door.
Mr Burston was with One Nation and was the party whip before he jumped to Clive Palmer's United Australia Party before being defeated in the 2019 election.