To the wider racing industry, the vast majority won’t know who Vivienne Leggett is and what she has done for racing, spanning three decades.
She was a very successful sponsorship manager of the Hawkesbury Race Club (HRC). She joined in 1991 and worked there for 26 years, with her hard work pumping significant money into the HRC.
That love, passion and dedication for her job came to a grinding halt in May 2016 when Greg Rudolph, a former Racing NSW deputy chairman of stewards, was appointed CEO. Fast forward five months and thanks to sustained bullying from Rudolph, Leggett was left with depression, fatigue, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
After the HRC ‘repudiated’ her contract, Leggett took her battle to the courts and after several years of fighting, the Federal Court ruled in the corner of Leggett, where the HRC was ordered to pay her a total of just over $2.8 Million. Full findings can be found here.
In an interview with Adam Page from Justhorseracing, Mrs Leggett details what she has been through over the past six years.
AP: Thanks for your time Vivienne. First of all, how are you?
VL: Well besides feeling broken from this almost six year ordeal, I feel all my emotions have been validated by the Federal Courts Honour’s judgement and orders set down recently.
AP: If I say the name Greg Rudolph, what comes to mind?
VL: Arrogant, anxiety, heart palpitations and disgust.
AP: That first meeting with him back in 2016…how long did it take you for realise what he was like?
VL: I knew straight away that he was a control freak as he very proudly told the admin staff this the first day he started. I thought at our first meeting that he was going to make my life difficult as he told me I was “a nothing”.
AP: How disappointed are you in the HRC for not being in your corner during the time of bullying?
VL: Extremely disappointed. Their actions or lack thereof made my condition far worse.
AP: Does Brian Fletcher have questions to answer, in your opinion?
VL: No I don’t think so, although he did recommend Greg Rudolph to the Board. But, the Board should have done there own due diligence before hiring him and maybe set some perimeters during his time on probation.
Our agreement we had in place was by handshake and mutually agreeable however the fact I did not have a contract in place gave Rudolph the idea that he could just bully and harass me because I had no formalised contract, but Justice Rares understood that I did have a contract in place for my 26 years as that’s how I was being paid and in the eyes of the law that is a contract in itself.
AP: During the darkest of dark times during this period, how low was your mental state and how serious were the suicidal thoughts?
VL: I was referred to St John Of God Rehab because of my suicidal thoughts and mental state but Racing NSW refused to pay under Workers Comp and they withheld any funds from me for 13 months so I could not afford to go to rehab.
AP: How big of an issue is the bullying of women in racing?
VL: Bullying of women in the workforce seems to be rampant, not just in racing.
AP: What would your advice be to someone getting bullied at work?
VL: My advice would be to trust yourself and know it’s not your fault. Talk to your doctor and get help before your mental state spirals out of control.
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