Former Vicinity boss Grant Kelley considers legal action

Grant Kelley, the former boss of shopping centre giant Vicinity Centres who abruptly left the company following two separate findings of sexual harassment and a dysfunctional workplace, has met lawyers to consider legal action against the company.

Kelley told this masthead: “I am reserving my legal rights,” confirming he has met lawyers but is restrained from saying too much. However, he strongly denied he was forced to leave the company because of the sexual harassment complaint.

Former Vicinity boss Grant Kelley says he co-operated fully with the investigation, but denied the allegations.

Former Vicinity boss Grant Kelley says he co-operated fully with the investigation, but denied the allegations.Credit:Jessica Hromas

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Kelley was the subject of an internal inquiry by Vicinity into allegations that he made repeated inappropriate and sexual comments to a former co-worker Marie Festa, who at the time was Vicinity’s head of corporate affairs.

Festa made a number of allegations against Kelley, including that he made intrusive comments about her attractiveness and boasted to her about his sexual conquests.

Kelley had previously announced in October that he was retiring from the chief executive role within the next six months, but a day before the group’s November 15 annual shareholder meeting, it was announced he would step down the next day after the meeting, just before the allegations surfaced.

Vicinity says it expedited his retirement after some of the allegations raised were proven and an internal review revealed a dysfunctional workplace and discord arising from some of Kelley’s behaviours.

“We take allegations of misconduct very seriously and follow a strict protocol to address concerns as and when they are raised,” Vicinity said.

Kelley said he co-operated fully with the sexual harassment investigation. He denied the allegations and said he maintained that denial. “My decision to leave my role at Vicinity has nothing to do with those allegations or the investigation,” he said.

“While I’m not happy in the way in which it all happened, it has allowed me to get on to my new initiative and that is good for everyone.”

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