If Married At First Sight's Ines Basic or Bachelor In Paradise's Jamie Doran have taught us anything in recent years, it's that often, putting your face to a reality TV show can mean far more serious consequences down the line. In 2020, Basic says she was diagnosed with PTSD following her stint on the Channel Nine social experiment, while Doran has since sought legal action for his portrayal on the Channel 10 dating franchise.
Now, Channel Seven has been ordered to pay former My Kitchen Rules contestant Piper O'Neill, who appeared on the 2019 season of the cooking series, compensation after a claim against the network where she argued she was left unable to work due to "psychological injury."
Fans of the show will remember O'Neill, a former beauty queen who appeared alongside friend Veronica Cristovao, as the contestant that was embroiled in a "sex scandal" storyline, which was pushed by the producers when they revealed her relationship with a rival contestant, Victor Aeberli. O'Neill has two children and was separated from her husband at the time.
Speaking to news.com.au at the time, Cristovao was critical of producers for perpetuating the "scandal", saying "everyone knew what was going on between Victor and Piper," adding the treatment was "very unfair."
In August 2020, O'Neill lodged a worker's compensation claim against Seven where she sought $1,000 in weekly benefits starting from December 2018, per news.com.au. In the claim, O'Neill alleged she had sustained psychological injury over the course of the series “due to vilification and bullying from producers and the network."
Per the publication, the allegations included "over 40 hour work weeks, control over her phone, distortions of her actions and words after editing, victimisation, bullying and harassment and unfair treatment and adverse interactions with other workers, producers, and staff."
“We refute any claims in this case,” a Seven spokesman said, via The Guardian. “There has been no settlement or lump sum payment. As this matter is ongoing, we have no further comment.”
The network has been ordered to pay O'Neill $425 a week ongoing from 26 March, 29.
It's also not the first case Seven has faced in the past two years. In 2019, a former contestant on its renovation series, House Rules, was portrayed as a "villain".
The NSW Compensation Commission ordered the Network to pay Nicole Prince compensation for psychological injury suffered after she was “harassed and bullied” during the filming of the hit renovation program.