Former Mediacom GM Rob Moore takes agency to court, alleging Willie Pang made him redundant because of mental illness

Former Mediacom Melbourne general manager Rob Moore has taken legal action against the agency, claiming that he was discriminated against by being made redundant earlier this year, following his disclosure to CEO Willie Pang that he had a diagnosis of depression.

Moore is seeking reinstatement, alleging that the redundancy was not genuine because the new managing director position, filled by former Publicis chief client officer Carl Colman, is the same as his redundant general manager position except for the remuneration and position title.

He filed the general protections application on 18 July, a legal claim available to an employee who believes their employer has taken adverse action (such as dismissal) against them because of a certain attribute, including, in Moore’s case, mental disability.

Last year, Rob Moore allegedly told Mediacom CEO Willie Pang that he was living with depression

Moore’s application sets out that, in 2015, he was diagnosed with depression, which worsened last year. He informed Pang, both the agency’s CEO and Moore’s manager, of his illness in October 2018, explaining that he needed to reduce his workload.

A flexible work plan was implemented as a measure to “protect [Moore] from stressful client interactions which were impacting on his mental health conditions”, the application says. However, Moore was asked to continue taking full responsibility for large clients including Fonterra, Cricket Australia, and Deakin University, it says.

In addition, a number of former Mediacom clients were at risk of leaving the agency, requiring a “disproportionate amount of attention”. According to Moore, this meant that, despite the flexible work plan, his workload increased instead of decreasing, and his mental health continued to deteriorate.

Mediacom made Moore redundant in April

The application states that Pang had told Moore “he needed someone to run the Melbourne office for him”, and he intended for Moore to be the next MD.

According to the application’s series of events, in February this year, Moore wrote an email to Pang which stated that he “has gone from being the MD-elect to feeling completely worthless in the space of around six to eight months”, that his “depression was real”, and that his “relationship with work had become a negative one that is self-fulfilling”. The email acknowledged that the next few months would be crucial for Mediacom, and that he would discuss his situation further with Pang once the agency had a chance to “come up for air”.

In March, Moore and Pang discussed Mediacom’s financial situation, but Moore claims that Pang assured him his role as general manager would not be considered for a redundancy.

The following month, in April, Moore presented a proposal for reducing Mediacom’s salary costs to Pang. Following that presentation, Pang is alleged to have told Moore that it was time for him to “start looking for a new job”. Moore did not know whether he was being dismissed, and, if so, why. Later, Pang confirmed to Moore that his role was being made redundant.

Mediacom’s Willie Pang

The redundancy, said to be part of a wider restructure, saw Moore leave the agency less than 12 months after being promoted to GM from his previous Mediacom roles as head of client leadership and managing partner.

Moore’s application states that he “did not cope with the stress of the redundancy”, which was confirmed in writing on his final day at Mediacom, 30 April, because “no suitable alternative roles have been identified for you”. Moore alleges that this is untrue and the newly-appointed Colman is performing the same duties as he did. The only differences are the “remuneration and position title”, according to the court documents.

“I would like to thank Rob whole-heartedly for his commitment, leadership and dedication to Mediacom. I would also like to wish him for the best for the future. I have no doubt he will go on to do great things,” Pang said when Moore’s departure was revealed mid-May.

Regarding the former GM’s case against the agency, Mediacom said that, as “this matter is the subject of legal proceedings, we will not be making any comment”.

In addition to reinstatement, Moore is seeking compensation, costs, and a fine to be handed down against Mediacom.

A directions hearing, in which the court briefly decides what will happen next in a case, will be held on 14 August.


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