MAFS star ’considering taking legal action’
AGGRIEVED ex-reality stars are coming out of the woodwork following a historic legal decision relating to a former House Rules contestant, claiming they could follow suit.
Former Married At First Sight star Tracey Jewel told news.com.au she has been approached by lawyers keen to take on her case and was "strongly considering" taking legal action.
Her statement puts her in agreement with fellow MAFS alum Dean Wells and Davina Rankin, both of whom have suggested the landmark workers' compensation case against Channel 7, which saw the network ordered to compensate a reality TV contestant for a "psychological injury", could "open the floodgates" to similar claims.
"Now that there has been a successful claim it does open the doors," Jewel told news.com.au.
"I have been contacted by several lawyers since the story came out wanting to take on my case, and I'm strongly considering taking action."
Jewel appeared on MAFS in 2018 and was "married" to Wells, who became embroiled in a cheating scandal with Rankin.
During her time on the program, Jewel - who had been open about her plastic surgery and cosmetic injections - says she was trolled by viewers over her appearance.
After leaving the show she endured not one but two acrimonious breakups, first with MAFS co-star Sean Thomsen, next with ex-flame Patrick Kedemos.
She told news.com.au she "never stops" dealing with the effect MAFS had on her mental health, and maintained the support from the Nine just wasn't there. News.com.au has contacted Nine for comment.
"It's not something that just disappears. I can manage it now, but everything (Nicole) has experienced that ultimately led to the claim being successful - having mounting medical expenses and facing difficulty finding work and that support not given by the people that caused it - is something I have found too … 100 per cent," she said.
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Yesterday It was reported that an ex reality tv contestant from House rules was ruled in her favour for workers compensation against Channel 7. this is going to be a interesting space to watch - perhaps this is the start of holding the networks and production companies accountable to a higher duty of care for us! What do you think? #realitytv #mafs #workers-compensation #mentalhealthawareness
When asked whether she had taken any steps towards pursuing her own workers' compensation claim, she said she was "considering it".
"The effect (MAFS) had on my mental health has been widely publicised since the show, but number one priority is my mental health and what's best for my daughter … it will come down to wether I am willing to deal with that publicity that will come with it."
"This is an amazing precedent," she added.
"(The House Rules case) is a great catalyst for change that was definitely needed. It's time for the networks to take some accountability for what they do to people."
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Yep I look tired in this picture Yep I’m a little more soul-wise battered and bruised from the past year... I have a few more emotional scars and mental breakages It’s not the resilience that keeps me going.. although I do consider myself a resilient person. It’s purpose. When life throws us curveballs and the shit hits the fan we have to dig deep into something. And that something is purpose. Purpose goes beyond the today, beyond the fear, beyond the current reality that isn’t what we want it to be. It’s the belief and hope in something we feel called to do. To make that difference. To fulfil something deeper than what’s going on around us. @andrewjobling64 and I will be embarking on a purpose project in 2020 - If you feel called to reclaim your purpose I hope you will join us! Dm me for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org #purposeproject #findyourpurpose #healthandwellnessprofessionals #2020bestyearyet #roadtrip #2020vision
Rankin, who also has been outspoken about the impact of being "TV's biggest villain" had on her mental health following her season of MAFS, told Hit 105 on Wednesday: "I would (sue) now that I know that you can."
"To be honest, when it was all going down, I actually had a few friends that are lawyers and I got them to look over my contract and these contracts are so hectic, you're pretty much handing over your life. They own you."
Her comments come in light of the NSW Workers Compensation Commission ruling that Nicole Prince - who was portrayed as a "bully" on House Rules in 2017 - was legally an employee of Seven, despite her contract with the network explicitly stating there was no employment relationship.
It was ruled the network was responsible for a "psychological" injury after deliberately painting Prince as the "villain".
Rankin suggested she received similar treatment by Nine, but said it would be difficult to have a leg to stand on given her tight contractual agreements.
"It's really hard to try and get anything out of it because they've kind of covered their butt in every way," Rankin said.
The 28-year-old, who is expecting her first child with boyfriend Jaxon Manuel in the coming weeks, said she found it difficult to overcome damage to her reputation as a result of her negative portrayal on MAFS.
"I couldn't go to events, I didn't even look at my phone, I didn't leave my house for months," she told hosts Stav, Abby and Matt.
Meanwhile, Wells, known for having an "affair" with Rankin on the same season of MAFS, spoke to Fitzy and Wippa on Nova 96.9 about the House Rules decision.
He said while he "won't be taking further action" himself, he could definitely see others following the same route.
"It totally could, it happens a lot. I spoke out about (being portrayed as the villain) and I've had five to six different reality TV people reach out to me and say, 'Yeah, the same thing happened to me.' So it could open the floodgates for sure," he speculated.
"Personally, I won't be taking any further action. I do take responsibility. These days I'm fine with it but some people have suffered, especially from the last season of MAFS and my season of MAFS. I know some people are really struggling so I reckon there might be some cases there."
Nicole Prince, who featured on season five of Seven's House Rules with her friend Fiona Taylor, pursued compensation after claiming she lost employment opportunities for reasons directly related to her portrayal on the show.
She took legal action through the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC), which defined her as an employee of the network's and ruled in her favour.
The organisation has published its findings in a 27-page report, in which arbitrator Cameron Burge rejected Seven's argument that no service was provided by Prince.
"The respondent derived benefit from the applicant giving her time and engaging in the home renovations for the television show," he said. "Without the contestants, the production would not take place."
Seven has been ordered to compensate Nicole for her medical treatment in relation to the injury at a cost not yet specified.
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