Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

​Harassed in cafe

Conciliation: Race discrimination

A man from a middle-eastern Muslim background complained that he was harassed at work about his food requirements and culture.

Story

A man from a middle-eastern Muslim background who had a job in a café complained that he was harassed by his employer because of his background. He said that initially he laughed off comments about the type of food he ate, questions about his culture and being called a ‘f-ing wog’. 

Then the employer said to him that he had cut his food with the same knife he had used to cut ham, which was against the complainant’s religion. He also copied his accent and laughed at him with another staff member. The complainant then asked the employer to stop making such comments, whereupon the employer abused him loudly and sacked him.

The employer denied that there had been any intent to harass the complainant. He said that he was sensitive to the complainant’s food requirements as they were similar to those of many of the café’s customers. Current issues were often ‘debated’ in the café, but in a good-natured and sensitive way. 

The employer said that there had also been a dispute about the complainant going out of the café when there were customers to be served, apparently for a cigarette (the complainant responded that he had gone to the bathroom). In the subsequent conversation, the complainant had been aggressive towards him. He also said that the complainant had not been sacked but had resigned during this conversation. 

At conciliation, the employer apologised for upsetting the complainant and said he regretted the ‘miscommunication’ that had occurred. The complaint was resolved after the conciliation when the employer agreed to provide a written apology and pay the complainant $3,500 for lost wages and damages.

What does the law say about race discrimination?

It is generally against the law in NSW to treat you unfairly or harass you because of:
  • your race, colour, nationality, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background

  • the race, colour, nationality, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background of any of your relatives, friends, associates or work colleagues.

More information on Race discrimination

​​​​Back to February 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​​​

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