Woodside settles on sexual discrimination case

A former Woodside executive has been awarded $170 000 over a sexual discrimination claim relating to her maternity leave.

Jill Mustard received the $170 000 plus an additional $60 000 in costs after the resources giant agreed to settle the discrimination claim on Monday.

The mother of three made headlines earlier this year when she went public with her claims, leading Woodside to claim the original payout had never been finalised.

Mustard, 44, claimed she was demoted twice after taking maternity leave for her two youngest children despite being promoted "three times in four years" before starting a family.

She alleged that she was sidelined from professional opportunities after taking maternity leave.

Her full time $260,000 salary did not change but Mustard said she was put into lesser roles with "diminished responsibilities" because of her family.

She says she felt compelled to raise the issue after Woodside failed to follow discrimination guidelines.

“While this was a difficult issue for me to take forward, as a senior female employee who sat on the company’s diversity committee representing women, this was not an issue I could walk away from,” Mustard told The West Australian.

“I tried hard to resolve the issues in a constructive way both while at Woodside and through the legal process and I was disappointed when the company said that it was going to retract the original settlement.

“A more cooperative approach from Woodside could have resulted in a much more constructive outcome.”

She told the Sunday Times "If you want to go anywhere in Woodside, you have to be a man or you have to act like a man."

The case was expected back in the Federal Court after Woodside said it would contest the claims on trial.

Woodside publicly denied her claims after they were reported in the media, but has now its refusal to reach a settlement “in hindsight…a mistake.”

At the time, Slater and Gordon lawyer Simon Millman argued that the settlement was finalised and his client had not been subject to a confidentiality clause.

Ms Mustard and Woodside failed to reach an agreement last month during mediation talks and the matter had been listed for a hearing into a preliminary issue next week.

Woodside has confirmed the parties had agreed to settle Ms Mustard’s claim, but a spokesperson said the settlement was not an admission of liability, but rather a move by the company to conclude the case in the best interest of both parties.

“Ms Mustard was a valued employee and we wish her well,” the spokeswoman said.

Millman said the settlement has been welcomed by Mustard.

“We were extremely disappointed by Woodside’s behaviour in this case and by the fact that they tried to renege on the original agreement,” Mr Millman said.

“It has caused further distress and meant that this matter has been more protracted then it needed to be, but it is a good result for Jill and it means she can put it all behind her.

“This outcome is a clear message to all employers that sexual discrimination will not be tolerated.”

Image: The West Australian

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