Complainant’s six-year wait for verdict
A WOMAN who has waited six years for judgment of her sexual harassment case has just discovered it was decided three years ago, but she was not told because of an "administrative oversight".
Lawyers for Lilo Von Schoeler and her former employer Boral Timber were only told of Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Jarrett's 2015 decision by email on November 23.
The notification was three years, seven months and 14 days late and more than six years after the case about workplace sexual harassment and alleged victimisation in 2009 was heard in 2012.
News Queensland last week revealed Judge Jarrett was sitting on almost 40 outstanding judgments. He has been taken off court hearings to write them up.
The judge has not delivered final orders in Ms Von Schoeler's case.
"I feel really shattered, let down and shocked," said Ms Von Schoeler, 33, who has anxiety disorder and has been unable to work full-time since 2010.
She said it made her feel "like dirt" when she found out the judge had decided on her case three years ago, but she had not been told.
Judge Jarrett's associate said in the November 23 email: "It seems that, by reason of an administrative oversight, reasons for judgment that were released on April 8, 2015, have not been sent to the parties."
The associate said on that date in 2015, the lawyers had been told that the judgment was not going to be delivered.
"It seems that by reason of some miscommunication the reasons that were released that day were not delivered to the parties,'' the associate wrote.
It is understood complaints about the delay in the Von Schoeler judgment delivery were made to the former FCC Chief Judge in 2015 and 2017, via the Bar Association of Queensland.
The judgment was not registered on the FCC list of orders for the case until Monday.
Judge Jarrett found Ms Von Schoeler had been unlawfully sexually harassed by a co-worker who groped her on the buttocks and Boral Timber delayed dealing with her complaint for months.
However he found Ms Von Schoeler's employer of five years was not vicariously liable and he did not find there was sex discrimination or victimisation.
Ms Von Schoeler's lawyer Susan Moriarty said she would make a Freedom of Information request for all documents related to the "administrative oversight'' and appeal the decision.
"It's unacceptable for a vulnerable complainant to wait six years for a decision,'' Ms Moriarty said.
Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge Will Alstergren said he would, "as a matter of priority'', inquire into the circumstances around the delay in the delivery of the judgment.
"I acknowledge the impact that delays have on litigants and the unacceptable delay in the case referred to,'' the Chief Judge said.
He said that, in 2018, Judge Jarrett delivered written reasons in 127 cases and delivered final oral decisions in 306 cases and interim judgments in 219 cases.
2011: Lilo Von Schoeler files application in Federal Circuit Court against former employer Boral Timber and two ex-co-workers, alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation at work in 2009.
October 2012: Judge Michael Jarrett hears the case over two days and final submissions made.
February 2015: Lawyers still awaiting judgment return to court to make new submissions on damages, after law change. Judge Jarrett says he will deliver judgment on March 30, 2015.
March 25, 2015: Judge's associate tells lawyers judgment adjourned until April 2, 2015.
April 2, 2015: Associate informs lawyers judgment to be delivered April 8, 2015.
April 8, 2015: Associate emails lawyers to say Judge Jarrett cannot deliver judgment that day, but will deliver it within a fortnight.
November 23, 2018: Judge Jarrett's current associate emails lawyers to say that, due to an administrative oversight and miscommunication, Judge Jarrett's reasons for judgment were released on April 8, 2015, but not sent to the parties. Lawyers told orders consistent with Judge's reasons yet to be made.
November 26: Judge Jarrett's judgment, dated April 8, 2015, appears in Federal Circuit Court list of orders for the case.