Shane Heal: Basketball legend loses lawsuit against WNBL club


Australian basketball legend Shane Heal has lost most of his lawsuit against the Sydney Flames, with a judge finding that he was suspended as the WNBL club’s head coach because of complaints made by players.

Heal sued the WNBL club in the Federal Court, seeking orders preventing his termination as well as penalties including employee entitlements.

He launched the lawsuit, alleging breaches of employment law, after he was suspended from his role as the club’s head coach in January last year.

The club said it launched an investigation into Mr Heal’s conduct after players approached management raising bullying complaints.

The Flames suspended Mr Heal and commissioned an independent investigation into the allegations before the matter spilt into the Federal Court during a hearing last year.

Heal had claimed that he was suspended after he exercised his workplace rights and the complaints were used as a “smokescreen”, the court was told.

In handing down his judgment on Friday afternoon, Justice John Halley said he was satisfied the action taken against Heal was because of the complaints brought to senior management by the players.

“Contrary to the case advanced by Mr Heal, I accept the decision to suspend Mr Heal as head coach of the team was taken because of the complaints that the players had made to senior management of the Sydney Flames about him, not because of his exercise of any alleged workplace rights,” Justice Halley said.

During the trial, the court was told Heal was accused of asking a player “what the f**k” she was doing twice at training and once at a game.

He was also accused by the club of lashing out at another player and singling out players in video sessions, telling them they had “stuffed up” in front of the entire team.

Heal denied any wrongdoing in a statement made last year.

Heal also took action under the Fair Work Act, claiming that the club had failed to provide him with employment records, did not provide him with pay slips and had breached his contract by not paying commissions on sponsorship revenue for financial backers that he said he brought to the Flames.

The Flames admitted to failing to provide him with pay slips

Judge Halley ruled that the club had breached his contract by not paying him his share of sponsorship revenue, but he otherwise ruled in favour of the Sydney Flames and dismissed Mr Heal’s lawsuit.

More to come

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