Rocky Horror Show actor Christie Whelan Browne has begun legal proceedings against the company behind the production, claiming she experienced sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination after she made accusations against former co-star Craig McLachlan.
On Tuesday lawyers for the actor filed documents in the Federal Court in Sydney against Oldfield Entertainment (Oldfield), formerly known as GFO Entertainment.
In 2018, Ms Whelan Browne went to the media with allegations of sexual harassment and indecent assault, among other claims, perpetrated against her and other female co-stars by Mr McLachlan during the 2014 Australian tour of the show.
In a statement published to social media on Tuesday, the musical theatre star said Oldfield’s behaviour towards her following the reports constituted sex discrimination and unlawful discrimination.
“Today I filed an application in the Federal Court of Australia against Oldfield... alleging that it unlawfully discriminated against me under the Sex Discrimination Act by subjecting me to sex discrimination, repeated sexual harassment by a fellow cast member and to victimisation when I spoke out against him,” she said.
“My claim is about my experiences when I was employed as a lead actor in the Rocky Horror Show in 2014 and then Oldfield’s response to my complaints from 2017 to date.”
Ms Whelan Browne had previously filed a complaint against the company in the Australian Human Rights Commission, which found in February that the matter “could not be settled by conciliation”.
A person is not able to file claims of unlawful discrimination in the Federal Court until the commission has terminated the complaint.
“I filed this application today with fear and anxiety, but also certain in the knowledge that it is something I must do and that I will see it through to the end,” she said in the statement.
“I know that I deserved better treatment, that I deserved to feel safe and respected in my workplace.
“Other women in the arts deserve better, and I won’t accept that anything less than that is ‘just the way it is’.”
Mr McLachlan has always denied the allegations. In 2018, he launched defamation proceedings against multiple media outlets for their coverage of the allegations, which he suddenly dropped in 2022 before key witnesses took the stand.
Following this development in May 2022, Ms Whelan Browne slammed Oldfield on social media for “refus(ing) to investigate our claims and threaten(ing) to sue us for defamation”.
The star said her “only intention” in going public with the claims had been to protect female performers in the 2018 production of the show.
Ms Whelan Browne said the experience had left her and the other women “significantly traumatised” and that she received “multiple threats and constant abuse”.
“I know that I haven’t seen the end of it,” she said.
“I have lost my feeling of safety in the world, knowing someone wanted so badly to damage me for speaking the truth.
“This was the result of simply trying to protect other women from the same behaviour.”