Annabel is a graduate chemist, having finished top of her class in 2019.
In January 2020 Annabel was contact by Camellia, a luxury cosmetic company based in Perth and was invited for an interview. Camellia is well known for offering high end luxury beauty products made from some of rarest botanicals known to mankind. Their products are instantly recognisable by the Middlemist’s Red Camellia crest on their boxes.
During her interview Annabel was told that this was a very special time for the company, with its centennial anniversary coming up in June. As such the company was looking to bring on a fresh new talent to help the Head Chemist, Karl Pierre Laurent, produce the fragrance of the century, the Middlemist’s Red Camellia fragrance which will be released in June coinciding the centenary celebrations.
At the interview Annabel is told the following: The fragrance has already been in development for one year, however is running behind schedule. Annabel was told that her work would consist of lab work, assisting the Head Chemist Karl Pierre Laurent with the Middlemist’s Red Camellia fragrance and that her contract would be one year in length. The recruiter also stated that upon satisfactory performance Annabel would be renewed for a second year. In her second year she would have the opportunity to work independently and produce her own fragrance. There is also a clause in her contract that states that she is not able to work for a competitor for three months following the termination of her employment with Camellia. The terms of her employment are otherwise unremarkable, she will be offered a full time position, leave, holiday pay and $70,000 per annum salary.
On her first day of the job Annabel meets Dr Karl Pierre Laurent, the Head Chemist at Camellia. He is an eccentric fellow and after questioning her on her previous experience in the beauty industry, of which she has none, dismisses her as young and inexperienced.
Karl is not happy that the company has hired an assistant to help him create the Middlemist’s Red Camellia perfume. Having worked for some of the best beauty and cosmetic houses in France he takes Annabel's presence as an affront to his talent, skills and genius. To this end, he assigns Annabel menial tasks, such as filling, making notes and cleaning lab equipment. Despite her consistent efforts to assist Dr Laurent, he continually brushes her off.
After three months in the position and no progress with Karl, Annabel, who has been observing Karl’s techniques and methods, starts developing her own perfume. She does not use any of the company’s equipment and does so in the evenings and on weekends. At one point she brings in a sample of her work to show Dr Laurent, hoping to demonstrates her abilities. After a brief sniff, he tells her that it doesn’t smell like a Camellia. After Annabel questions what the perfume should smell like since most camellia’s have no scent, Dr Laurent laughs at her and tells her to maybe consider getting married instead of pursuing a profession as a chemist. Annabel is very upset by this comment.
By May, with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the imposition of a state-wide lockdown, Annabel begins working from home. She is initially relieved to be out of the lab and away from Dr Laurent. She starts spending more and more time working on her unique fragrance and spends about an hour a day doing the few tasks that Dr Laurent assigns her.
By June, Annabel has created a scent that she is very happy with and believes to be very marketable. She is using her own equipment. She approaches Indigo Cosmetics and offers them the perfume.
It is now June 15th, two weeks away from Camellia’s centenary anniversary and the release date of the Middlemist’s Red Camellia perfume. The perfume is still not ready. Dr Laurent blames Annabel. He says she is always working on her own creations, is useless and doesn’t know what she is doing which has hindered his efforts. Camellia fires Annabel, stating that her performance is unsatisfactory and that she lacks competence. Annabel claims she was not given the opportunity to work on the Middlemist’s Red Camellia perfume.
On her way out of the building, Annabel hears Dr Laurent boasting how Camellia never had any intention of letting Annabel develop her own perfume and that such an iconic beauty brand would not stake their reputation on an inexperience pup. There is evidence to support this.
At this point Indigo Cosmetics makes Annabel an offer to buy her perfume and calls the perfume Indigo 1. Annabel’s perfume is an instant success and Indigo asks her to develop their signature scent (with a handsome remuneration package).
Camellia claims that Annabel did not fulfil her duties and was not competent. Further they claim that the perfume she developed for Indigo Cosmetics was developed during her employ with them and therefore they own the Intellectual Property rights. Further, Dr Laurent claims that Annabel utilised his techniques and has provided that information to Indigo. Advise Camellia what actions they may be able to bring against Annabel.
Annabel claims that Camellia has no right to fire her and indeed it was them who was at fault. She claims she had not been given the opportunities which had been promised and had subsequently deprived her of the chance to develop her own fragrance. Further, she is still upset over Dr Laurent’s comments towards her. Advise Annabel on any course of action she may have against Camellia.