Ben is a recent arrival from Ireland and has travelled to Australia for a job opportunity in a software firm called Software Banana Pty Ltd. Due to Ben’s immense skills, he was able to receive an exemption to travel to Australia for his new job. Apparently, this angered some of his co-workers who still had family members who could not re-enter the country from overseas. Slurs such as ‘Why would they let in this Limey potato eater’ and ‘he looks like a leprechaun, but more ugly’ were directed at Ben on a regular basis. These actions were reported to management but ignored as friendly jokes amongst colleagues. One day, Ben was having a particularly poor day, when one of the ringleaders, William, proudly proclaimed ‘The only thing the Irish are good for are drinking, having 8 kids, and losing wars to England’. This offended Ben greatly, and so he picked up a lamp from his desk and threatened to hit William with it if he continued. Ben’s actions were reported to the HR manager who promptly advised Ben his employment had been terminated, with the HR manager noting ‘you’re 40 years old, it’s a young person’s industry, and all you Irish do is create problems for me’.

Clearly upset, Steve, one of Ben’s friends, talks to Ben noting that if he needs anyone to verify what happened at Software Banana, he would be happy to do so. This conversation is overheard and relayed to the HR manager, and Steve is terminated on the basis of ‘performance issues’. Steve’s last 3 annual reviews were all positive and no previous issues around performance have been raised with him.

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Upon learning of several court cases now being taken against Software Banana, its owner, Taylor, is irate. There is a strict equal opportunity policy noting Software Banana is an a ‘inclusive’ workplace and outlining mutual obligations of all staff towards one another, as well as extensive complaints handling procedures. Whilst the policy is handed to all staff during orientation, there is no further training provided. Additionally, the HR manager rarely follows the procedures outlined in the policy to handle complaints.

Worried about his potential liability, Taylor comes to you for legal advice on whether he will be liable for any of Software Banana’s practices. Please restrict your answer to discussion of theAnti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) and relevant common law.


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