The boss of a major Gold Coast Titans NRL team sponsor allegedly groped a female employee and repeatedly asked her for a threesome with his wife.
Brett Thomas, 52, and his firm TFH Hire Services are being sued by former marketing manager Ashleigh Martinovic, 24, for $815,793 for sexual harassment.
The former sprint car racer was already in hot water after he tore up TFH’s six-figure sponsorship deal over Titans star’s Ryan James’ Grand Final gaffe.
Brett Thomas, 52, (right) allegedly groped a female employee and repeatedly asked her for a threesome with his wife Mieke Thomas (right)
Mr Thomas his firm TFH Hire Services are being sued by former marketing manager Ashleigh Martinovic, 24, (pictured) for $815,793 for sexual harassment
Mr Thomas on Friday backflipped on his decision by apologising and re-signing with the club after huge backlash.
Ms Martinovic claims her boss touched her bottom in the office on numerous occasions, made lewd comments to her, and propositioned her for sex.
Documents filed to the Queensland Federal Court alleged the 15-month campaign of harassment left her with so much mental trauma she couldn’t work.
Ms Martinovic’s court statement claims first proposition came on just her first day at the Gold Coast firm when Mr Thomas allegedly asked her for a threesome with his wife
The first proposition allegedly came on just her first day at the Gold Coast firm when Mr Thomas allegedly asked her for a threesome with his wife Mieke Thomas.
Mr Thomas is accused of making the same request while all three were in a taxi to their hotel after an industry dinner in Sydney on May 11, 2017.
Ms Martinovic claimed in her filing that earlier in the night Ms Thomas repeatedly insisted she sit on her lap.
The young woman claimed Mr Thomas again suggested a threesome after the Australian Event Awards on the Sunshine Coast on September 13, 2017.
A year later Ms Martinovic and her boss were at a Titans vs Manly Sea Eagles on August 17, 2018, and staying at the Manly Novotel with colleagues.
She claimed Mr Thomas this time asked her for a threesome with another female employee, the court documents stated.
‘We will push the beds together and have a threesome with her,’ he told her while pointing to the other woman, according to the Courier Mail.
When Ms Martinovic refused, the other pair had sex on a bed while she pretended to sleep just a few metres away in the same room, she said in her claim.
Ms Martinovic claimed Mr Thomas frequently touched her bottom in the office and on October 12, 2017 told her ‘you can tell you play soccer’ as he did it.
Ms Martinovic claimed in her filing Ms Thomas repeatedly insisted she sit on her lap at an industry dinner in Sydney on May 11, 2017, and that Mr Thomas again proposed a threesome
The former sprint car racer (left) was already in hot water after he tore up TFH’s six-figure sponsorship deal over Titans star’s Ryan James’ Grand Final gaffe, but on Friday backflipped and re-signed with the club (right)
He even ‘forcefully’ poked her in front of other staff on July 9, 2018, she claimed in her court submission.
Three other TFH staff backed up Ms Martinovic’s claims with sworn statements supporting her court filing, including Mr Thomas’ own sister.
Leesa Gill, 49, who owns a quarter of TFH, said she witnessed the May 11, 2017, lap-sitting incident and found it ‘extremely inappropriate’.
Ms Gill quit as TFH chief financial officer less than a month after the dinner.
Her statement also claimed Mr Thomas made numerous lewd comments towards his employee while in the workplace.
Ms Martinovic claimed in her filing that Mr Thomas bullied her, barred her from work projects and was ‘aggressive’ after she rebuffed his persistent advances.
She said the alleged harassment made her feel humiliated, anxious and embarrassed, and gave her post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
Mr Thomas’ sister Leesa Gill (left) wrote a sworn statement backing up some of Ms Martinovic’s (right) claims, that was submitted to the court
Ms Gill, 49, who owns a quarter of TFH, said she witnessed the May 11, 2017, lap-sitting incident and found it ‘extremely inappropriate’
The court documents state she successfully claimed WorkCover benefits in a separate case.
Ms Martinovic wants an apology from TFH and for the company to introduce a sexual harassment policy, in addition to her financial claim.
She first tried to resolve the issue with conciliation through the Australian Human Rights Commission and sued when that negotiation failed.
The sexual harassment claims surfaced on the heels of Mr Thomas’ humiliating backflip on the Titans sponsorship.
He was incensed that James forgot the words while conducting the Welcome to Country before the NRL Grand Final on October 6
‘The embarrassing performance of Ryan James in his speech last weekend was offensive and weighed heavily on this decision,’ Mr Thomas said.
Mr Thomas dumped his sponsorship of the Gold Coast Titans after club captain Ryan James’ (pictured with wife Anna) embarrassing blunder at the NRL grand final. He on Friday backflipped and apologised after heavy backlash
Heavy backlash followed with rugby league fans accusing him of using James’ gaffe as an excuse to get out of the deal.
On Friday he apologised and recommitted to the club for the 2020 season, admitting: ‘When I stuff up, I stuff up. I’m human like anybody else’.
‘I sincerely apologise to Ryan James, and his family, for any hurt my comments caused. It was a stupid thing to say, and it’s not how I think or who I am,’ he said.
‘During sponsorship negotiations with the Titans, I overreacted and unfairly brought Ryan into a situation that had nothing to do with him.’
The court ordered TFH to file a defence by December 13, and for the parties to attempt a settlement through mediation by February 28.
Mr Thomas’ lawyers have field a defence and he is expected to fight the claims.