A homeless charity founder and Young Australian of the Year finalist who was sacked over fraud allegations has been labelled a ‘trickster’ by the Fair Work Commission – despite all her charges being dropped.
Street Swags founder Jean Madden started providing lightweight and waterproof sleeping bags for the homeless in 2005 after learning about the health effects on those sleeping rough.
Her charity, Street Swags, distributed 13,000 mobile beds by 2010 – the year Ms Madden was awarded Queensland Young Australian of the Year and went on to become a national finalist.
But Ms Madden was in 2016 sacked by the charity she founded, accused of racking up more than $440,000 in unauthorised expenses throughout the preceding year.
Street Swags founder Jean Madden leaves the Magistrates Court in Brisbane in February 2017
Ms Madden, who was sacked over fraud allegations, has been labelled a ‘trickster’ by the Fair Work Commission
The mother-of-two was two months later charged by police with a raft of fraud offences, but they were eventually dropped and no evidence was ever offered.
Ms Madden took her ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ Street Swags termination to the Fair Work Commission for unfair dismissal.
In a decision handed down on January 14, Commissioner Jennifer Hunt dismissed Ms Madden’s claim, declaring her to be a ‘trickster’.
‘Ms Madden, is, I have observed, an interesting person. She appears to me to be a chameleon; being able to charm many with gushing enthusiasm and purported facts or statements,’ Commissioner Hunt said in her decision.
‘Throughout the hearing and on careful examination of the evidence and material before me, I have caught Ms Madden out with complete and obvious untruths.
‘Her trickery and charisma would lead a hurried person to accept her explanations of ”Oh, that wasn’t paid” or ”I had deductions to cover that payment”.
Ms Madden began to provide lightweight and waterproof sleeping bags for the homeless in 2005 after learning about the health effects on those sleeping rough
‘Ms Madden is, in my view, a trickster and has the capacity, audacity and gall to have fooled many around her.’
Commissioner Hunt said Ms Madden established a ‘fan base’ and led them to believe Street Swag directors Adrian De Maria and Brian O’Reilly ‘were on some power trip to improperly overthrow a hard-working and diligent CEO from the charity she founded’.
Commissioner Hunt also detailed how Ms Madden sent $14,400 to her personal lawyer and gave her then-boyfriend a job with a $130,000 salary.
‘The use of a charity’s money to pay to the CEO’s boyfriend this payment… is beyond extraordinary,’ she said in her decision.
Ms Madden’s termination letter from May 19, 2016, said that the Worrells Report indicated that Ms Madden incurred $441,399.43 in unauthorised expenses in the past year.
‘I am satisfied the belief that Ms Madden had engaged in conduct sufficiently serious to justify immediate dismissal was based on reasonable grounds,’ Commissioner Hunt said.
Ms Madden (pictured in February 2017) took her ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’ Street Swags termination to the Fair Work Commission for unfair dismissal
In her decision, Commissioner Hunt also said Ms Madden reminded her of the ‘sleek lawyer and showman Mr Billy Flynn from the musical Chicago’.
Ms Madden told The Courier-Mail it was ‘really unfair’ for the commissioner to comment on the way she ‘performed’ during the hearing seven-day last year.
‘I think she is referring to my performance during the hearing,’ Ms Madden said.
‘Whilst she implies that I have immense confidence and Broadway quality acting skills, I would argue I don’t have either; what I do have is the knowledge that I am innocent.’
Ms Madden claims she has struggled to get a job after being ‘so publicly defamed’.
She said she was rejected from 40 jobs she applied for over the past year. She also uses her maiden name when applying for work.
‘I think my reputation proceeds me,’ she said.
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News