Top Australian law firm Clayton Utz has reached an out-of-court settlement with a female lawyer following claims of sexual harassment and lewd behaviour by male colleagues.
Bridgette Styles launched action in the New South Wales Supreme Court alleging harassment, victimisation and defamation during the 16 months she worked for the company.
Styles claimed she was sacked because of allegations she made of harassment, and said Clayton Utz had allowed a sexist culture to develop by failing to prevent male employees using inappropriate humour and language.
Clayton Utz denied the claims and said Styles had been dismissed for "performance issues".
The firm and Styles reached a confidential agreement after mediation, but Justice Lucy McCallum lifted a suppression order on revealing emails submitted to the court.
One, sent by lawyer Luis Izzo to people outside the company, described female colleagues as "crazy single female chicks" who "just need a good **** to get them back to normal".
In another, Izzo referred to other female employees as "pussies".
McCallum said the comments were "no advertisement for male sensitivity".
"It is difficult to decide whether it is more surprising that the remarks were made at all [after over a century of feminism] or that a lawyer recorded them in an email [after seven centuries of subpoenas]," McCallum said.
Other male colleagues used work emails to discuss "lurid details" of a gay porn star called Marcus Day.
Styles also claimed that during her job interview, a male partner of the firm showed a picture taken from her Flickr page of her fishing in the Amazon River, making comments which Styles later inferred as oblique references to her breasts.
She said Clayton Utz had failed to ban a Facebook group called "Clayton Utz Workplace Relations (Sydney) Whorebags", and that the firm's policy was to transfer employees who complained about sexual harassment.
Clayton Utz said that none of the alleged conduct had been done "in connection with the employment of the people in question".
The firm said it took all reasonable steps to prevent behaviour of the kind alleged by Styles.
McCallum said she did not see how the partners could have prevented their employees sending such emails.
In a joint statement reported by the Sydney Morning Herald after the settlement Styles said she was "very happy with [its] terms: and of the settlement" and Clayton Utz, chief executive partner Darryl McDonough said he was pleased agreement had been reached.