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Voices of Australia: Case study 2 - rightsED

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Voices of Australia - Case study 2

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Racial discrimination and employment

Complaint filed: Alleged race discrimination and racial hatred in

The complainant, who was originally from Serbia, was employed as a van driver for an
Australian Government statutory authority. The complainant alleged that his supervisor
made offensive comments about Serbians to him and to others while he was present. For
example, the supervisor is alleged to have made comments such as "He is a Serb and
Serbs make ethnic cleansing, He might kill you"
. The complainant claimed that the
company was slow to investigate his internal complaint and that he was victimised for
lodging the complaint. A co-worker provided evidence to support the complainant's claim
that offensive comments about Serbs had been made in the workplace.

The individual respondent denied making the alleged comments but agreed that he had
asked questions about the political situation in Serbia. The individual respondent said
that he was an immigrant himself and would not make offensive comments about other
people's racial background. While the company indicated that it had extensive EEO and
harassment policies, it noted that it had no record of the individual respondent having
received training in EEO issues.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference. The company had already
transferred the complainant to a job he enjoyed where he no longer had contact with the
individual respondent. The respondent company assured the complainant that his career
had not been compromised in any way and that steps would be taken to ensure the
confidentiality of his complaints. The company also provided the complainant with
acknowledgement of the distress he had suffered.

  1. Why was the complaint relevant under federal legislation?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to provide a harassment free workplace?
  3. Do you think that equal employment opportunity training would benefit the
    supervisor in this case? What type of things would he/she learn?
  4. Should individuals be forced to take responsibility for their actions?
  5. Have you or your friends been in any similar situations?