Anti-Discrimination NSW


​​​​​​​Dismissed after complaint about racist comments 

Conciliations: Race discrimination in employment​

Published: 17 March 2017

An Aboriginal Liaison Officer was performance managed and then dismissed after she made a complaint about racist comments by a colleague.


A woman who had worked as an Aboriginal Liaison Officer for a construction company made a complaint of race discrimination and victimisation after she was dismissed, allegedly for poor performance. 

The complainant had objected to the behaviour of a member of the human resources staff, who made offensive comments to her about Aboriginal people ‘getting everything for free’. The complainant initially asked the woman to stop but when the behaviour continued she made a complaint to this woman’s supervisor.

After making the internal complaint she was subjected to increased performance management and eventually dismissed. The nature of the criticisms of her performance did not seem to merit dismissal. At about this time the woman who was the subject of the original complaint left the organisation.

By the time of conciliation, the complainant had got another job. However she requested that the organisation make a number changes to resolve her complaint: Aboriginal cultural awareness training for all managers and supervisors, the option of this training for all other staff as well, increased training and ‘acting up’ opportunities for Aboriginal staff and the establishment of Aboriginal identified positions.

The company representatives, including the new HR officer, responded positively to these proposals. They said they would definitely institute the training for managers and supervisors, and would introduce training for other staff in the next financial year. They would also increase training for Aboriginal staff and had already set in train the process of creating Aboriginal identified positions. The complainant was satisfied with this and the complaint was resolved.

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 March 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​​​

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