CEO with cancer sues over breach of contract

19 June 2012

The Australian CEO of a major IT company is suing his former employer for breach of contract after the company failed to maintain his income protection insurance and pay out entitlements after he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Ian Mathieson, the former Australian Managing Director of software company DST Global Solutions began working with the multi billion dollar corporation in 1993.

The company agreed to maintain income protection insurance at 75% of Mr Mathieson's income when he was first employed.

It was also agreed that the company would maintain Total and Permanent Disability insurance of four-times Mr Mathieson's salary.

In February 2009, Mr Mathieson was diagnosed with advanced thyroid cancer and has been unable to work since 2010. His employment was terminated in October 2011.

Employment law expert Maurice Blackburn principal Giri Sivaraman said, "This very successful company has not honoured its obligations or promises it made.  It has not treated Mr Mathieson with the respect he deserved and failed to financially provide for him after he became seriously ill."

"Maurice Blackburn alleges that the company has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by breaching an agreement to maintain his income protection insurance at the agreed level. The company has also breached the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act because it has treated him unfairly after he declared he was unable to work due to his serious illness."

"He built this company in Australia from zero over an 18 year period, and now feels like he has been thrown to the wolves, " said Mr Sivaraman.

Mr Mathieson said, "I had rarely been sick throughout my career and I was suddenly not able to return to work. That was indeed soul destroying. In October 2010 I reported to UK based management that the company had not kept my Income Protection Insurance and Life and other insurances up to date.  Their initial response was both concerned and supportive however perhaps when realising the dimension of the company's oversight, they then chose to simply deny any responsibility or liability."

"The lack of empathy, support and direct action demonstrated by DST's management overseas defies belief.  There were simply no acts of assistance in any shape or form, no visits, no contact with other family members and certainly no progress on any of the outstanding employment issues."

A directions hearing in the case will be held on 29 July, 2012 in the Federal Court in Sydney.

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