Racial Discrimination Act complaints : Conciliated Outcomes

Under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 it is unlawful to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. The Act also prohibits offensive behaviour based on racial hatred.

The summaries presented below have been collected here from the Commission's Annual Reports over recent years to provide easier access. Additional summaries are available on the Commission's conciliation register

WARNING: SUMMARIES OF COMPLAINTS REFLECT THE SUBJECT MATTER OF COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSION AND HENCE CONTAIN WORDS AND DESCRIPTIONS THAT MAY OFFEND.

2008-2009

Complaint of racial discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is of Lebanese/Armenian racial origin, is employed with the respondent finance company. The complainant alleged his former supervisor sent him an email about Muslim women that he found offensive, as his wife is Muslim. He also alleged the individual respondent called him an ‘Arab' and a ‘bomb thrower' in front of other staff and also told him to ‘speak English'. The complainant said that, after he made an internal grievance about his supervisor, his higher duties were removed, his work was over-scrutinised and his performance was unfairly criticised.

The individual respondent denied sending the email and said that the comments he made were misunderstood. The company advised that, in response to the complainant's internal grievance, they met with the individual respondent and he moved to a different section of the company. The company denied that action taken in relation to the complainant's work performance was because of the complainant's race or because he had made an internal grievance.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference. The individual respondent provided the complainant with a verbal apology at the conference. The company agreed to pay the complainant's legal costs to the value of $5000 and provide the complainant with a training fund to the value of $10 000 to assist his career development. The company also agreed to hold a staff meeting to confirm that the type of behaviour, that was the subject of the complaint, was unacceptable and to advise that the dispute between the complainant and the individual respondent had been resolved.

Alleged racial hatred on a website

The complainant, who is of Asian background, complained about a website which he said advocated violence against Asians. The comments on the website included:

"Asians take all our good Jobs and Careers leaving us aussies to have to fight and often miss out on a opportunity for spots in our universities and good jobs."

"Asian People Flood our city with their Asian shops with their language all over them, having their own dedicated “china town” and their own suburb ..."

"... we understand everyone has different Levels of hate for Asians and so we have ... Yellers. Their job is to Yell at the Asians with passion i.e. “YOU GOOK F**K OFF TO CHINA” and do what ever they can to show Asians they are not welcome in Australia ... Fighters ... are their to express there anger physically by laying the Gooks out."

On receipt of the complaint, the Commission contacted the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to establish the identity of the website owner. Within a few days of contacting the ISP, the ISP advised that the website had been disabled because it breached the ISP's Acceptable Use Policy.

The complainant informed the Commission that the action by the ISP resolved his complaint.

Complaint of racial discrimination and racial hatred in sport

The complainant lodged a complaint on behalf of his 18-year-old son, who is of Ethiopian origin. The complainant alleged that, during a recent game between his son's football club and the respondent football club, a player from the respondent club called his son a ‘black c**t'. He also alleged a member of the respondent team's coaching staff told his son to ‘wash the dirt off', which was a derogatory reference to his son's skin colour. The complainant advised that his son's club made a formal complaint to the football league about the player's comment, but he was not satisfied with how the matter was handled. The complainant said he wished to complain against both the respondent football club and the football league.

The respondent club said its player denied making the alleged comment. The club confirmed a member assisting the coaching staff said ‘wash the dirt off', and advised that this member had been counselled. In its response to the complaint, the club said it has zero tolerance for racism and expressed regret for what occurred. The complainant advised the Commission that this response resolved his complaint against the club.

The respondent football league advised that it had investigated the complaint in accordance with its rules and procedures. The league said the matter went to a hearing and the tribunal found that the player had made the alleged comments. However, the player successfully appealed the decision.

The complaint against the football league was resolved by means of a telephone conciliation process. The terms of agreement included an undertaking by the league to review and revise its complaint procedures to ensure clearer procedures for investigating complaints and to provide for conciliation before a hearing.

Alleged race discrimination in employment

The complainant advised that he is Aboriginal and was employed with the respondent manufacturing company as a spare parts coordinator. The complainant alleged a senior supervisor told him that he should not apply for a promotion as he is an ‘Abbo' and therefore incapable of fulfilling the role. The complainant said he made an internal grievance, but felt the matter was not handled appropriately. The complainant resigned from his employment.

When the company was informed about the complaint, they confirmed that the complainant had reported the incident, but said they understood the matter had been resolved. The company agreed to participate in conciliation without providing a formal response to the complaint.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference, with an agreement that the company would pay the complainant $7000 compensation and that the company and the individual respondent would provide the complainant with statements of regret.

Complaints about racial hatred online

The complainants, who are of Aboriginal background, complained about a respondent social networking site. They claimed that a social group entitled, ‘No I'm Not Bloody Sorry & Don't Have Anyone to Be Reconciled With!', was created and loaded onto the respondent site. The complainants alleged the members of the group made comments that racially vilified Aboriginal people. Some of the comments included:

"Why should I have to apologise for something that happened over 200 years ago? Consider it survival of the fittest."

"‘I have nothing wrong with an Aboriginal being named Australian of the Year, but when it's just handed out as a token gesture rather than being EARNT..."

After being advised of the complaint, the respondent company informed the Commission that the group had been disabled from the website because it violated the site's user policy. The complainants advised the Commission that the action taken by the respondent company resolved their complaint.

Alleged racial discrimination in employment

The complainant advised that she is from Switzerland and speaks English with a French accent. The complainant applied for a position as a conference producer through a recruitment agency. She said a staff member from the agency left a message for her, but when she called back and spoke to this staff member, she was told the position was no longer available. The complainant claimed that, when her partner and friend, who do not have French accents, subsequently called to enquire about the position, they were told the position was still open. The complainant claimed the respondent agency discriminated against her because of her origin and her accent.

The managing director of the respondent agency advised the Commission that the employee named in the complaint had been dismissed. The managing director offered to meet with the complainant to discuss her concerns. The parties met a few days later and, after this meeting, the complainant advised the Commission that the action taken by the managing director resolved her complaint.

2007-2008

Alleged racial hatred and racial discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is Maori, said he commenced employment with the respondent building company as a casual labourer and then became a permanent employee. The complainant claimed that during the 10 months he worked with the company, co-workers used offensive race-based terms in his presence such as ‘blacks', ‘niggers', and ‘coons'. He also alleged that co-workers spoke to him aggressively and called him a ‘f****** abo'. The complainant said that after he complained to the company director, his co-workers refused to work with him, he reverted back to being a casual employee and was eventually not offered any more work.

The complainant's co-workers admitted making some of the alleged race-based comments, but claimed that these were jokes and not directed at the complainant. The company director said that when he became aware of the complainant's concerns, he spoke to the complainant's co-workers and advised that such behaviour was unacceptable. The company denied that the complainant's employment status changed from permanent to casual after his internal complaint. The company claimed that it had attempted to contact the complainant to offer him additional work, but the complainant did not respond.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The parties agreed that the company would pay the complainant $7 000 compensation, provide him with a written reference and arrange anti-discrimination training for staff.

Complaint of race discrimination in the provision of accommodation

The complainant, who is Indigenous, alleged that the operators of a boarding house refused to provide him with accommodation because of his race. The complainant claimed that the terms of the rental agreement had been pre-arranged; however, when he arrived at the boarding house the caretaker said, ‘We don't take anyone who is Aboriginal because there have been problems in the past. This is a management policy'.

In response to the complaint, the owners of the boarding house confirmed that they were reluctant to provide accommodation to Aboriginal people because of previous bad experiences with some Aboriginal tenants. However, they denied there was an ‘official policy' not to accept Aboriginal tenants and agreed that the caretaker's remark to the complainant was unacceptable.

To resolve the complaint, the respondent agreed to provide the complainant with accommodation and also provide him with an apology and $3 000 compensation. The respondent also agreed to develop an anti-discrimination policy.

Alleged race and disability discrimination in employment

The complainant advised that he is an international student from India and had been employed by the respondent fast food company. He claimed that one night at work, he was injured when his arms were hit by a machine. He alleged that, following the accident, his manager discriminated against him on the ground of his race and disability. In particular, he claimed that the manager: abused him and said he would send him back to India; failed to call a company doctor to attend to his injury; and refused to pay his medical allowances. He alleged that his employment was finalised one week after the work accident.

The Commission contacted the company by telephone and advised of the complaint. While the company disputed some of the complainant's allegations, they advised that they were willing to participate in a conciliation conference prior to providing any written response to the allegations.

The complaint was resolved at the conciliation conference with an agreement that the company would reinstate the complainant to a comparable position at a different location; provide him with assistance to lodge a worker's compensation claim and pay him $3 100 in lost wages. The complainant's previous manager also agreed to provide a letter of apology to the complainant.

Complaint of race discrimination and sexual harassment in employment

The complainant is Indigenous and worked as a cook in a bistro. He alleged that his manager racially discriminated against him in employment by saying: ‘Are all black c**** as dumb as you?'; ‘Can you pass me the Abocado?'; and ‘Abo's want everything for nothing'. He also claimed that his manager sexually harassed him by making comments such as: ‘Whilst you're down there.'; ‘Do you want me to f*** you'; and ‘I always knew you were gay'. The complainant said he resigned from his employment because of the way the manager treated him.

The respondent, who is the owner of the company, denied that he discriminated against the complainant because of his race or that he sexually harassed him. The respondent claimed that the workplace was one where a certain level of banter between employees was tolerated and the complainant had also engaged in such banter.

A conciliation conference was held. The complaint was resolved with an agreement between the parties that the respondent would pay the complainant $10 000 compensation and provide him with a Statement of Service.

2006-07

Complaint of race discrimination and racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is Indigenous, stated that during his employment as a labourer with the respondent engineering company he was regularly harassed and vilified because of his race. He claimed that co-workers would call him names such as “black”, “dark”, “half cast” and “coon”. He said the company did not have policies in place to deal with racial abuse and claimed he was not given adequate support to resolve the issues in the workplace.

In reply, the engineering company said that the first time they became aware of the complainant's concerns was when he walked out of the premises and abandoned his employment. The company advised that it has anti-discrimination policies in place and is of the view that these are adequate. The company provided statements from its employees who agreed that they had referred to the complainant as “black” or “dark”, but said that the comments were made in jest and the complainant had laughed when the comments were made.

The complaint was resolved by the respondent agreeing to review and improve its anti-discrimination and harassment policies. This included nominating harassment contact officers and holding regular team meetings in which discrimination issues could be raised. The respondent also agreed to pay the complainant $7400 in general damages.

Alleged race discrimination and racial hatred in the provision of accommodation

The complainant, who is Kenyan, rented a unit from a company through a real estate agency. The complainant claimed that the real estate agent told him that the company wanted him to vacate the property. The complainant said that even though he had negotiated a date on which he would vacate the premises, the company changed the locks on the unit without telling him. The complainant said that as he had nowhere else to go, he had to sleep in a nearby park. The complainant alleged that the next week when he went to the unit to collect his property, he was racially abused by the company director's son who said comments such as “Go back to your country you black bastard” and “f*** off you black c***”. The complainant also claimed that his bed and some of his furniture was missing from the unit.

The company agreed that it had changed the locks on the unit but said that it only did this because the complainant's rent was in arrears. The company director's son denied racially abusing the complainant.

The complaint resolved through a conciliation process with the individual respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $4500 in compensation and attend anti-discrimination training.

Complaint of race discrimination in employment

The complainant had immigrated to Australia from Zimbabwe four years ago. The complainant alleged discrimination because of his race during employment as a tradesperson with the respondent car repair company. He alleged that two of his co-workers made unwelcome remarks about his skin colour and general appearance. He said they referred to him as a “burnt chop” and said white girls were just after him for his “big black c**k”. He also alleged that his work colleagues made an object that resembled a black male penis and placed this object in his toolbox.

In response to the allegations, the owner of the company advised the Commission that he had taken steps to rectify the situation. In particular, he stated that the staff members responsible were informed that if remarks or behaviour of this nature continued, they would face the prospect of dismissal. He also provided the complainant with a letter of acknowledgement which outlined that he understood the seriousness of the complaint.

The complainant advised the Commission that the actions taken by the respondent resolved his complaint.

Allegation of race discrimination, racial hatred and sexual harassment in employment

The complainant, who is of Lebanese background, claimed that she resigned from her employment as a receptionist with the respondent management services company because she had been discriminated against on the basis of her race and subjected to racial hatred and sexual harassment. She alleged that the director of the company sexually harassed her by touching her, propositioning her and making sexually suggestive comments. She also claimed that another manager made negative comments about people from Lebanese or Arabic backgrounds such as “If it was up to me, I would not have hired you. I hate Arabs, I always have” and “I hate Lebanese and I hate Arabs”. She also said that this manager made disparaging remarks about the Lebanese food she ate for lunch. The complainant also claimed that soon after the Cronulla riots, an e-mail was circulated to all company employees vilifying people of Lebanese background. She said that she complained about these events to her employer but no sufficient action was taken to address her concerns.

The company advised that the complainant made a written complaint about sexual harassment which was investigated. The company said the director denied the sexual harassment allegations but agreed to have no further contact with the complainant. The company confirmed that the complainant had also raised concerns about race discrimination by another manager but claimed the complainant resigned before the company could investigate the matter. The manager alleged to have racially discriminated against the complainant denied the allegations.

The parties resolved the complaint through a conciliation process with an agreement that the respondent company would pay the complainant $21 000 compensation.

2005-06

Complaints of racial hatred, racial discrimination and victimisation in employment

The two complainants, who are of Nigerian ethnic origin, advised they were employed as factory workers with the respondent manufacturing company. They alleged that their supervisor subjected them to racial hatred and racial discrimination in that he made comments such as “Black idiot”, “Come here, you f…… African”, “Hey you, black man, you're rubbish”, “You eat like a monkey” and “Go back to Africa ”. The complainants also alleged that their supervisor verbally and physically threatened them because of their complaints to the Commission. Additionally, the complainants claimed that the company did not respond appropriately to their internal complaints.

In his written response to the Commission, the supervisor denied the allegations. The supervisor claimed that the complainants made their complaints in response to action taken to address their unacceptable workplace behaviour which included challenging his authority and making adverse comments about him in a different language. The company did not respond in writing to the allegations but agreed to participate in a conciliation process.

The complaints against the company were resolved with an agreement that the company would provide the complainants with written apologies and pay each complainant $17 550. This amount represented compensation for hurt and embarrassment and reimbursement of medical and counselling costs. The company also agreed to establish an anti-discrimination policy and associated complaint process; to provide anti-discrimination training to all staff members; and to encourage the supervisor to attend training and counselling.

Alleged race discrimination in the provision of service by an airline

The complainant, who is of Chinese ethnic origin, alleged that when travelling with a group of students of the same ethnic background, a flight attendant acted in a rude and racist manner towards her and the students. The complainant claimed that when boarding the plane, the flight attendant told her the group could not have their allocated seats near the exit and when she queried this, the flight attendant asked her if she could speak English. The complainant said that despite advising the flight attendant that she had lived in Australia for approximately 30 years, the group was told they could not sit in an exit row and were moved to the back of the plane.

The airline advised that the flight attendant had asked the complainant and her associates if they could speak English because they were sitting in an exit row and she needed to explain the safety briefing card to them. The flight attendant said that she asked the party if they would mind moving from the exit seats because she felt they had not listened to her safety briefing or looked over the safety information cards.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The airline agreed to pay the complainant $750 compensation, provide her with a statement of regret and review staff training in light of the complaint.

Complaint of race discrimination against Indigenous employee

The complainant, who is Indigenous, advised the Commission that he had worked in a customer service role with a Commonwealth government department for six months. He claimed that during his employment his immediate supervisor unjustly criticised his work and questioned him in relation to his personal leave even though he had provided medical certificates for the absences. The complainant said that he lodged an internal grievance about his supervisor and his subsequent probation report recommended termination of his employment. The complainant alleged race discrimination and victimisation by the respondent department.

The Commission prioritised the complaint and contacted the department to advise of the allegations. In response, the department undertook to conduct an internal review of the decision not to permanently appoint the complainant. The department contacted the Commission a few days later and advised that the complainant's ongoing employment had been confirmed. The department also advised that the complainant had been offered career counselling and the option of moving to a different work location.

The complainant informed the Commission that the action taken by the department resolved his complaint.

Alleged race and age discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is over 45 years of age and of Sri Lankan background, alleged discrimination on the basis of his race and age in his employment as a warehouse assistant with the respondent company. He claimed that another employee who was younger than him and of Anglo-Saxon background was given better hours and provided with more assistance than he was. The complainant also claimed that this employee of Anglo-Saxon background would stare at him and make comments such as “Black bastards” and “Black arse holes” whenever he walked by. Additionally, the complainant alleged that he had not been given promotions and salary increments due to him and had only been paid half of the bonuses paid to other staff.

The company denied discriminating against the complainant on the basis of his race or age. The company said that although the complainant and the Anglo-Saxon employee referred to in the complaint had the same job title, they had different duties and hours of work. The company claimed that the complainant was not treated any differently than his co-workers and was not financially disadvantaged at any time. The company also said that the complainant had not raised any concerns with management about race or age discrimination.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The complainant decided to resign from his employment and the company agreed to pay the complaint his resignation entitlements and $10 000 general damages.

2004-05

Complaint of race discrimination in the provision of goods and services

Four Aboriginal men complained that when they went to get a drink at a local club with a non-Aboriginal friend, the barman told them that the club does not serve beer to Aboriginal people.

In response to the complaint, the owner advised that the barman who was on duty at the time of the alleged incident was a casual employee and was no longer employed with the club. The owner said that no incident report had been lodged and he was unaware of the alleged incident. The owner claimed that if the matter had been reported to him and the alleged conduct confirmed, he would have dismissed the employee immediately.

The parties agreed to try and resolve the complaint by conciliation. The matter was resolved with the complainants agreeing to accept a verbal apology from the club owner and an offer to attend the club and have a drink with him.

Alleged race discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is of Ethiopian origin, claimed that he was discriminated against because of his race during his employment with the respondent manufacturing company. The complainant's allegations included that he was called ‘black b…', referred to as ‘monkey' and asked “Where is there a well developed black country?”. The complainant claimed that he was over scrutinized compared to other employees and that he was rarely acknowledged by co-workers and managers. The complainant said that he eventually resigned because of pressure put on him.

In reply, the company denied that the complainant had been discriminated against because of his race. The company advised that while one employee agreed that he said “How are you, you black b…” to the complainant, this employee claimed that he intended no offence by the words and had apologised to the complainant.

The parties agreed to participate in a conciliation process which was successful. The complaint was resolved with an agreement that the company would pay the complainant $10 000 compensation and provide a verbal reference to prospective employees. The company also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for its staff.

Alleged race discrimination in accessing facilities at a leisure centre

The complainant, who is of Jordanian origin, stated that in keeping with her customs she wears long sleeve clothing and a head scarf. She claimed that when attending a regular hydrotherapy session at a local leisure centre, a staff member approached her and told her that she was not allowed to enter the pool wearing a long sleeved shirt and scarf. The complainant said that when she told the staff member that she had been swimming in that manner at the centre for three months, the staff member told her that she would be allowed to swim but must shower first. The complainant said that she was embarrassed and humiliated by the action of the staff member.

In response to the complaint the leisure centre stated that it has no policy prohibiting people from wearing long sleeved shirts or head scarfs in wet areas. The centre noted that all members of the public are required to shower before entering the pool. The parties agreed to participate in a conciliation process. The matter resolved with an agreement that the leisure centre would pay the complainant $8 500 compensation and provide her with a written apology.

Complaint of race discrimination in voluntary employment

The complainant, who is of Dutch origin, claimed that he applied to work as a volunteer tourist guide with a non-profit community based organisation. He alleged that his application was delayed and then ultimately rejected because of his race and accent.

In response to the complaint the respondent organisation said that the complainant's application was unsuccessful because he did not have the suitable level of written and oral English language skills required for the job.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation with the organisation agreeing to provide the complainant with a verbal apology and offering the complainant a volunteer position in another section of the organisation. The organisation also agreed to implement procedures whereby prospective volunteers will be provided with information regarding the requirements for the positions they apply for and where the position requires English communication skills, they will be provided with detailed information on the level of skill required.

2003-04

Alleged racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is Aboriginal, claimed that while he was visiting a local Police Station as part of his work role, he was offended and humiliated when he overheard police officers making negatives remarks about Aboriginal people. Specifically, the complainant claimed that during a 10-minute period, one officer made the remark "f . . . Abo" at least "ten to fifteen times".

The police station confirmed that it had undertaken an investigation which supported the complainants allegations and recommended disciplinary action be taken against the officer who made the remarks. The officer concerned concurred that he made the alleged comments, but claimed that they were not directed towards the complainant but made with reference to certain Aboriginal young people who had stolen property from his car a few weeks earlier.

The complaint was resolved at a conciliation conference on the basis of a personal apology from the officer concerned and an ex-gratia payment of $2 000 and a statement of regret provided by the department.

Complaint of racial hatred at local club

The complainant, who is of Spanish origin, alleged that he was subjected to offensive comments based on his race when he attended a local club. Specifically, the complainant claimed that when speaking in Spanish with a family member the respondent called him a "wog" told him to speak English and said "Go back to your country".

The respondent claimed that he did not recollect the incident as he had been drinking on the day in question. He said that he may or may not have made the alleged comments.

The complaint was resolved by the complainant accepting an apology from the respondent.

Complaint of discrimination on the grounds of race and religion

The complainant claimed that he was discriminated against in his employment with a large manufacturing company because of his Jewish origin and religious beliefs. In particular, he claimed that while other casual employees were made permanent and new employees were employed, his appointment as a permanent employee was delayed for several months. He also claimed that his computer username was changed from his surname to 'Hitler's failure', and following this incident his wage payments were late and/or incorrect.

The company concurred that the computer username incident took place but denied that the complainant was treated less favourably by the company because of his race and/or religious beliefs. The company advised that the computer incident was investigated but the responsible person could not be identified and the company had apologised to the complainant regarding this incident. The company submitted that the disputes concerning the complainant's employment status and wages were resolved prior to the complaint being lodged with the Commission.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process. The employment relationship had broken down and the complaint was resolved on the basis of the complainant accepting an ex-gratia payment of $12 500 and payment of accrued annual leave entitlements.

Allegations of racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is of Aboriginal descent, claimed that during her employment in an administrative position with a large transport company she was subjected to acts of racial hatred by unidentified staff. Specifically, the complainant claimed that someone left written messages on her desk saying 'G'lly Wog leave work early' and 'Black bitch'. The complainant resigned from her employment following the alleged incident.

The company stated that an investigation was conducted into the complainant's allegations but the responsible staff member(s) could not be identified.

The complaint was resolved through a conciliation process with the complainant accepting an ex-gratia payment of $3 000 and the company's commitment to revise its harassment policy within six months and introduce cross-cultural training within 12 months.

Complaint of sex and race discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is of Bosnian descent, was employed by a large private company as an engineer. She alleged that she was harassed and ostracised by staff, yelled at and belittled and eventually dismissed from employment. She claimed that she was removed from a project and told "it is work for a man not a woman" and was paid less than a man for doing the same work. She claimed that comments were made to her such as "Do not be scared, he is not Milosevic" and you "must behave politely in the country where there exists a much higher level of culture than in Bloody Bosnia". The complainant also alleged that she was told she did not have anything to contribute to a project because she was from "these Eastern countries".

The respondent company denied that the complainant was discriminated against because she was female and claimed that the complainant did not have the relevant supervisory skills for the position. The respondent stated that the complainant was not subjected to harassment on the basis of her race and denied that the alleged comments relating to the complainant's ethnic background were made. The respondent also advised that it had comprehensive affirmative action and anti-discrimination policies and was committed to diversity in the workplace. The respondent claimed that the complainant ceased work to travel overseas.

The matter was resolved through a conciliation process, with the respondent company agreeing to pay the complainant the sum of $20 000 compensation in full and final settlement of the complaint.

Complaint of racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is of Indian descent, is employed as a carer at a Community Aged Care Centre. The complainant claimed that a resident of the centre subjected her to racial abuse on several occasions, including in the presence of other staff members, calling her a "black bitch", a "f . . . bitch" and suggesting that she return to India. The complainant stated that she was offended, insulted, humiliated and intimidated because of these comments about her racial background.

The respondent acknowledged that his comments were offensive and hurtful to the complainant and he apologised for his behaviour. He claimed that when the comments were made he was experiencing personal difficulties and problems with other residents and staff.

The complainant accepted a written apology from the respondent to resolve her complaint.

2002-03

Complaint of race discrimination and racial hatred in employment

The complainant, who is of Chinese origin, was employed by a private utilities company. He claimed that during his employment he was subjected to racial abuse in that co-workers would mimic his accent and make comments such as “Bloody Chin-Chong, the room smells like dim sim” and “Don't hug the chin-chong, he has got AIDS”. The complainant also alleged that he was treated less favourably because of his race in that, in contrast with other employees, he was more frequently rostered to work at lunch time and his views were not considered during his performance review.

The company denied that the complainant was abused because of his race and noted that the individual respondents denied making the alleged remarks. One of the individual respondents concurred that he may have offended the complainant by responding on occasions in a purportedly “Chinese” accent but he claimed this was done in the context of a shared joke. The company also stated that the complainant did not make any official complaint in relation to alleged racial remarks. The company claimed that the other issues raised by the complainant were industrial issues in dispute between the complainant and his supervisor and were not related to the complainant's race.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation. The complainant agreed to withdraw his complaint and the respondent agreed to provide the complainant with a written apology and a work reference and pay him $5 000 in recognition of the embarrassment, humiliation and stress that he may have endured during his employment.

Allegation of race discrimination by liquor store

The complainant, who is Aboriginal, alleged that staff of a liquor store discriminated against him because of the colour of his skin. He stated that he entered the store, had a look around and selected a bottle of beer from the fridge. He claimed that when he approached the counter to pay, the teller said “We want to search you” and the Manager said “I saw you put a can of drink into your jumper”. The complainant refused to allow the staff to search him and told the Manager to call the police. The complainant claims that when the police arrived, they strip searched him and then let him go because they could not find any stolen goods on his person.

The respondent denied race discrimination and advised that the complainant was suspected of theft because of his manner when he was in the store. The respondent claimed that the situation deteriorated because of the complainant's initial reaction and his insistence on being searched by the police.

The matter was resolved by conciliation with the complainant accepting a written apology from the respondent company.

Complaint of race discrimination in employment

The complainant, a 16 year old Aboriginal girl, stated that at the time of the alleged discrimination she had been employed on a part-time basis by the respondent grocery company for approximately four months. She claimed that on her final day of employment she logged onto her cash register but only worked on the register for about 15 minutes as she was instructed to work in another section. She claimed that when she logged off her cash register she noticed that the register was out by $50 and when she advised the Manager of this he said “what have you done with the money”. The complainant alleged that these words, and the manner in which the Manager spoke to her, amounted to an accusation that she had stolen the money. She claimed that she was treated this way because of her Aboriginality and that another non-Aboriginal employee who made a mistake with her cash register was not treated as she was. The complainant resigned from her employment.

The respondent company denied that the alleged words were said to the complainant and denied that the complainant was accused of stealing the money or treated less favourably than other non-Aboriginal employees. The manager of the store claimed that the complainant was asked to explain why her cash register did not balance and that this was standard practice.

The matter was resolved through telephone discussions with the parties, with the respondent company agreeing to pay the complaint $200 in general damages.

Allegation of racial hatred by neighbour

The complainant is of Vietnamese background and is a tenant in public housing. The complainant alleged that since 1998 she has been subjected to racial hatred by her neighbour. The alleged action of the neighbour included saying “Go back to Vietnam ”, calling her an animal, mimicking her accent and making rude gestures to her. The complainant claimed that despite complaints to the department about her neighbour the department failed to take any action to resolve the matter. The complainant alleged that her racial background was also a factor in the department's failure to resolve her complaint.

While the neighbour denied that she had made the alleged comments or done the alleged acts, she agreed that there have been ongoing disputes between her and the complainant. The department denied that it treated the complainant less favourably because of her race. The department also advised that the complainant's concerns were investigated but the investigation was discontinued as the allegations could not be substantiated.

During the Commission's inquiry process the department approved the neighbour's application for transfer and the complainant agreed to resolve her complaint against her neighbour on that basis. The complaint against the department was resolved on the basis of the department's agreement that ‘racial hatred' would be a factor for consideration in the criteria for housing transfer.

Alleged race discrimination and racial hatred in employment

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.

Complaint of race discrimination against Indigenous employee

The complainant, who is Indigenous, claimed that on 26 January when he attended work, he saw a notice on the staff notice board entitled ‘Aboriginal application for employment'. He claimed that the mock application form reinforced negative stereotypes about Aboriginal people. For example, in the section entitled ‘Income' the following was written “theft-unemployment-armed robbery” and under the section entitled ‘Abilities' the following was written “rapist, VD spreader, pub fighter”. The complainant said that another copy of the document was found in the storeroom and when he told management about the incidents he was told not to worry about it.

The company claimed that it did not formally investigate the incident as the area where the document was posted was accessible to all employees and contractors. The company said, however, that they placed a notice on all notice boards stating that the document was racist and unacceptable. The notice further stated that if an employee was found to be responsible they would be banned from attending the site. The company confirmed that another copy of the document was found and immediately destroyed. The company claimed that they reacted appropriately and took all reasonable steps to address the incident when it was brought to their attention.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the complainant agreeing to withdraw his complaint on the basis that the company would revise its EEO policies and procedures, appoint Harassment Contact Officers, implement cultural awareness training for all staff and provide the complainant with a statement of regret.

2001-02

Complaint of race and disability discrimination in access to premises

The complainant, who is Aboriginal and has cerebral palsy, alleged that she was treated less favourably on the basis of her race and her disability when trying to enter a hospital to see her sick child. The complainant alleged that the security guard at the hospital initially swore at her and refused her entry because he thought she had been drinking. The complainant claimed that she tried to explain that she was there to visit her baby and the driver of the bus she had travelled in also spoke to the guard and advised him that the complainant had a disability which affects her speech and gait. The complainant claimed that the guard persisted in questioning her as to whether she had been drinking and why she was returning to the hospital late in the evening. The complainant advised that she was eventually allowed to enter the hospital and that she lodged a complaint with a hospital official the day after the incident.

The hospital advised that they had a contractual agreement with the respondent security firm which stipulated that security guards were required to question unidentified persons found on the premises after 8pm. The security firm advised that the guard involved in the matter had left their employment, but from their records it appeared that the guard thought that the complainant had been drinking and questioned the complainant about this when she sought to enter the hospital. The records indicated that the guard agreed that he spoke with the bus driver but denied that he swore at the complainant. The guard claimed that he offered to escort the complainant to the ward but his offer was declined.

The matter was resolved by conciliation. The security firm agreed to pay the complainant $3 000 which included $2 000 in general damages and $1 000 legal costs. The firm also agreed to provide the complainant with a written apology and to introduce a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy. The hospital agreed to pay the complainant $3 000 which comprised $2 000 for general damages and $1 000 legal costs.

Alleged discrimination on the ground of race in the provision of goods and services

The complainant advised that his wife is of Russian background and does not read, write or speak English. The complainant alleged that he was vilified because of his wife's racial background when he contacted the respondent state government department to enquire, on his wife's behalf, about obtaining a particular qualification. The complainant alleged that a female officer answered his call and when he advised the officer that his wife was Russian, the officer said "Oh! A mail order bride eh!" The complainant also alleged that the department discriminated against his wife in that study guides for the qualification are not published in Russian.

The department advised that due to budgetary constraints study guides are not published in various languages and the department was of the view that non-provision of the material in Russian did not constitute discrimination on the ground of race. The department concurred that during a telephone conversation, a part-time Client Relations Consultant had made the alleged statement to the complainant in response to the complainant advising the consultant that he had a "Russian bride".

The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the department agreeing to pay the complainant $1 000 compensation for hurt and humiliation and the Client Relations Consultant agreeing to provide a written apology to the complainant.

Complaint of race discrimination in provision of banking services

The complainant is of Iranian background, does not read, write or speak English and was recently released from detention after being granted refugee status. The complainant claimed that he went with a friend to the local bank to open a savings account. The complainant alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race in that the bank refused to open an account under his name because he does not speak, read or write English and would not allow his friend, who speaks English, to assist him. The complainant stated that the next day, he went to another branch of the same bank and was able to open an account without any problems.

The bank advised that it initially did not open an account for the complainant because it was not satisfied that the complainant was able to understand the terms and conditions pertaining to his responsibilities as an account holder. The bank stated that the complainant was able to open an account at a different branch as an employee at that branch spoke the same language as the complainant. The bank denied race discrimination but agreed that the complainant's inability to communicate in English was a factor in the initial refusal to allow him to open an account.

The matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent providing a verbal apology to the complainant and agreeing to issue a national bulletin to advise all staff to use the Telephone Interpreter Service to assist customers who have difficulties communicating in English.

Alleged race discrimination by hotel

An Aboriginal elder lodged a complaint on behalf of himself and another Aboriginal person, alleging discrimination on the ground of race by the respondent hotel. The complainant claimed that he and the other complainant had performed at a dance function, showered and then sought to enter the hotel to purchase some cigarettes. The complainant claimed that they were refused service and asked to leave the premises because staff of the hotel said they smelt.

The hotel denied race discrimination and claimed that the complainants were refused entry because of their strong body odour and because they did not meet the hotel's hygiene standards. The hotel stated that the complainants were informed that they were welcome to return after they had showered.

The complaint was resolved at conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay each complainant $6 000 in general damages and also provide each complainant with a letter of apology.

Alleged race discrimination by bus driver

The complainant, who is an Aboriginal, alleged she was discriminated against by the driver of a public bus. The complainant claimed that when checking the validity of passenger's tickets, the bus driver made racist remarks to Aboriginal passengers by referring to them as "the coloured man in the hat", "you blacks" and "black fellas". The complainant alleged that when she and other passengers objected to this language the driver said "if I had my way, I'd line you all up outside". The complainant advised that she made a complaint directly to the bus service when she returned home.

The respondent company advised that it had conducted an investigation of the complainant's allegations and while the bus driver admitted using the term "coloured" he denied using the terms "blacks" or "black fellas". The company also advised that the driver admitted saying words to the effect "if I had my way everyone would be lined up outside" but claimed this was said in the context of enabling a ticket check because he knew that one passenger did not have the correct ticket. The company also advised that the driver had been dismissed.

The complaint was resolved at conciliation with the company agreeing to develop and implement anti-discrimination policies for inclusion in the driver induction process. The company also agreed to engage a relevant agency to provide an initial series of anti-discrimination forums for all drivers, with follow-up forums to be held annually.

Alleged racial vilification in local council meeting

The complainant, who is a councillor of a local council, claims that at a council meeting the respondent became insulting and argumentative towards him and racially vilified him by making remarks such as "Jews don't understand", "Jews are the same", "Jews don't know better" and "f…king Jews". The complainant claimed that he asked council staff to remove the respondent from the council chamber and that upon being approached by the staff members, the respondent repeatedly referred to the complaint as a "f….ing Jew".

The respondent agreed that he may have made offensive comments against the complainant but he denied making any anti-semitic remarks. The respondent claimed that in his view the complainant has not adequately performed his councillor role as he is only interested in representing Jewish members of the community.

Following several rounds of conciliation discussions by telephone, the parties agreed to resolve the complaint on the basis that the respondent acknowledged that the comments he made hurt and embarrassed the complainant and unreservedly withdrew the comments. Each party also undertook not to disparage or make untrue or defamatory comments about each other to any third party.

Complaint of racial discrimination in employment

The complainant was employed by a large federal government organisation for five years. The complainant claimed that during his employment, he was treated less favourably because he is from Israel , is of the Jewish faith and had work related health problems. The complainant alleged that since 1996, he was subjected to repeated anti-semitic comments, intimidation, isolation, threats of demotion and shift restrictions due to work related health problems. The complainant alleged that the comments he was subjected to included being greeted by a staff member who said "Sieg Heil" and performed a "Nazi" salute, being asked "Why don't you go back to Israel?" and told "I'll send you back to Israel". The complainant claimed that his supervisors, harassment officers, a staff doctor and a union representative all subjected him to less favourable treatment while working at a particular work centre and that management failed to act upon his complaints.

Although the respondent denied the allegations the matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent organisation agreeing to pay the complainant $9 000 in general damages.

2000-01

Complaint of race discrimination in employment

The complainant stated that she was employed as a Play Worker with a community-based family support service and after five years service was appointed to a Team Leader position in August 1999. The complainant alleged that since this time her employer had treated her less favourably because of her race. In particular, the complainant claimed that she was issued with a performance warning based on unfounded allegations and for behaviour which included speaking Chinese to a Chinese-speaking customer. She further alleged that senior officers refused to verify her appointment as Team Leader when co-workers questioned her leadership. The complainant also alleged that she was victimised for lodging internal complaints and that because her complaints were written in a lower standard of English, they were not taken seriously.

The respondent agreed that the allegations made by other staff members against the complainant were unfounded and that the official performance warning was not justified. The respondent also agreed that the complainant had been appointed Team Leader. The respondent stated that, while the complainant may have been treated less favourably by her co-workers, this was because of ‘internal conflicts' rather than the complainant's race.

The complaint was settled by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to issue the complainant with a letter of apology, pay the complainant $15,000 compensation, reimburse costs incurred by the complainant in pursuing the complaint and publish a tribute to the complainant in the organisation's newsletter.

Allegation of racial discrimination in provision of housing

The complainant, who is Aboriginal, claimed that the manager of the public accommodation complex in which she lived had ignored her complaints that a neighbour racially vilified her. The complainant claimed that this neighbour said such things as “die Abo die”, “go home…Abo free zone” “all Abos will die” and “up the whites”. The complainant stated that she was forced to leave the housing complex because of this vilification.

The respondent department denied that the complainant had been discriminated against on the basis of her race and stated that the complainant had complained about annoyance and nuisance, not racial vilification. The respondent claimed that it commenced investigation of the complainant's concerns but the complainant left her accommodation before the investigation could be completed.

The matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent providing the complainant with four weeks bond, two weeks advance rent, a letter of indemnity for electricity and up to $500 removalist costs, should she require emergency re-housing within the next nine months. The respondent also agreed to backdate the complainant's application for housing from the time she left her accommodation, on the understanding that re-housing would be subject to normal waiting lists.

Alleged racial discrimination and vilification in employment

The complainant was employed as a labourer with an agricultural company. The complainant alleged that during his three months with the company he was treated less favourably and subjected to abuse because of his Aboriginal descent. The complainant alleged that in front of other employees, the boss swore at him, made remarks about his skin colour when a black sheep came into sight, called him ‘eight ball' and held him down and tried to write ‘eight ball' on his head. The complainant also alleged that he was refused shift rotation while this was granted to non-Aboriginal employees. The complainant claimed that he resigned because of the alleged treatment.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the respondent company agreeing to pay the complainant $1,500 compensation and re-employ him in a different location.

Allegation of racial vilification at football match

The complainant, who was of African descent, claimed that the respondent racially vilified him during a football match calling him a “f***ing nigger”, a “black monkey” and saying he would “send (him) back to Africa on a boat”.

The respondent denied he made the alleged comments.

The matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent providing the complainant with a written apology which stated that he “apologises for any wrong doing or distress caused through his verbal attack on the field”.

Complaint of race discrimination by Citizen's Club

The complainant claimed that she was speaking to a friend in her first language, which is not English, while waiting for an appointment at a Senior Citizens Club. The complainant alleged that the Secretary of the Club approached her and said “Be quiet, this is an Australian Club and you ought to speak English. This is the Club rule”. The complainant complained to her local Member of Parliament about this. The complainant stated that when the local member's staff contacted the club, the Secretary advised that “speaking English only” was a rule in the Club's constitution.

While the Club Secretary initially denied the allegations, she subsequently admitted making the alleged remarks. The President of the Club advised the Commission that there has never been a policy that people must speak English while on the Club's premises.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the Secretary of the Club providing a written personal apology to the complainant. The Secretary was also counselled by the Club Committee.

Allegation of race discrimination and racial vilification in employment

The complainant who is of Indian origin is an employee of a Commonwealth department. The complainant alleged that since commencing employment in 1997 he had been subjected to discriminatory treatment which included colleagues saying “we don't want blacks on this table” and calling him a “black c***”. The complainant alleged that on one occasion in 1998 three co-workers placed a canvass bag over his head and pulled him around the room saying “we'll put him back on a boat to India ”. The complainant also claims that in 1999 he was removed from his ordinary rostered duties because a co-worker refused to work with him on account of his race and his colour. The complainant stated that he complained to management but no appropriate action was taken. The complainant noted that he had been involved in disciplinary proceedings in 1999 arising out of an incident relating to the vilification which resulted in him being demoted and transferred out of his previous work environment.

The respondent department denied that the complainant had been discriminated against on the basis of his race or colour. The respondent stated that in 1999 the complainant had threatened a fellow employee with a knife and a subsequent investigation had lead to disciplinary action against the complainant. The department also submitted that they were not vicariously liable for any unlawful conduct as they had taken all reasonable steps to prevent such conduct. The named individual respondents denied they had acted as alleged.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation on the following terms: payment of $10,500 general damages; payment of the complainant's legal fees; apologies from the two individual respondents; promotion of the complainant.

1999-2000

Racial vilification in radio broadcast

The complainant who is Aboriginal, lodged a complaint against a local radio station. The complainant alleged that the reading out of an anonymous facsimile titled "Australian Apology to the Aborigines" was racially offensive to her, her family and the Indigenous community generally.

The management of the radio station acknowledged that the content of the facsimile was inappropriate and offensive to Indigenous Australians and that they had made a mistake in reading it on air. The radio station advised that it had taken action against the radio announcer and had aired an apology on four separate occasions. The complainant indicated that she was satisfied with this action taken by the radio station. As part of the resolution of the complaint the respondent also agreed to provide the complainant with a written apology, to train their on-air staff regarding racial vilification and to meet with Indigenous community leaders.

Complaint of race discrimination by retail store

Three complainants who are Aboriginal, alleged that a salesperson refused to sell them a bottle of alcohol and other goods. The complainants claimed that the salesperson said she was complying with an instruction by Police not to serve Aboriginal people due to past trouble involving Aboriginal patrons.

The respondent did not dispute that the complainants had been refused service and also acknowledged that no such instruction had been issued by Police. The respondent claimed there had been a misunderstanding in passing information on to staff about an earlier customer incident.

The complaint was resolved through the conciliation process with the respondent agreeing to provide the complainants with private and public written apologies. Other settlement terms were not disclosed.

Alleged racial vilification in provision of goods and services

The complainant claimed that she stopped at the respondent service station and asked to borrow some tools to fix her car. The complainant claimed she was told the company did not lend tools to the general public. The complainant stated that when she made enquires of another staff member within the office, an argument ensued. The complainant alleged she was called a "black bitch, f... mole", told to go back to her own country and was chased out of the shop.

The respondent denied that the staff member had made any racial comments. The respondent claimed that the complainant had called the staff member a racist name and had caused damage to property within the shop.

The matter was resolved with the complainant and respondent providing apologies to each other.

Complaint of race discrimination by real estate agency

The complainant, who is of Aboriginal descent, alleged that he and his family had been discriminated against because of his race. The complainant stated that his family were renting a house from the respondent real estate agency. The complainant alleged that the proprietor of the real estate agency said, with reference to his partner who is non-Aboriginal, "Do you prefer white women?". The complainant also alleged that the proprietor referred to the complainant's relationship as a "mixed relationship" and in conversations with his partner called him `black' and `coloured man'. The complainant also claimed that the proprietor said she would have to notify the landlord of the complainant's Aboriginality. The complainant alleged that his race was a reason why his family was later evicted from the property.

The proprietor denied that she had made comments regarding the complainant's skin colour, Aboriginality and relationship. The proprietor also denied that the complainant's race was a reason why the lease had not been renewed. The proprietor stated that the property was always only going to be leased for a six month period prior to being offered for sale.

The matter was settled through conciliation for an amount of $1000.

Alleged racial vilification in provision of goods and services

The complainant, who is of German descent, alleged that he was racially vilified by an employee of a communication company who was working outside his home.

The complainant alleged that the respondent made a `Nazi' salute to him after he asked the respondent to move the company vehicle from his driveway.

In conciliation the respondent company advised that it had reprimanded the employee. The respondent company also provided the complainant with a written apology.

Complaint of racial vilification and discrimination in employment

The complainant, who is of Indian descent, alleged that since commencing employment with the respondent state department he had been subjected to racial abuse including racially offensive and threatening mail. The complainant alleged that he suffered harassment through persistent allegations about, and investigations of, impropriety in his work practices. He alleged that in comparison with other staff he had greater difficulty obtaining staff benefits and had been given fewer promotional opportunities. The complainant also alleged that he had been unreasonably prevented from resuming his normal duties after a period of absence from work.

The respondent department did not dispute that some incidents of racial abuse had occurred in the past. However, the respondent claimed that management had appropriately dealt with these incidents at the time. The respondent denied more recent incidents and claimed that any animosity towards the complainant was not because of his colour or race but because he was a new staff member. The respondent denied that the complainant had been treated less favourably than other employees in relation to access to staff benefits and promotional opportunities.

The complaint was settled at a conciliation conference with the department agreeing to pay the complainant $8,000 compensation, issue the complainant with a letter of regret and provide ongoing Equal Employment Opportunity training for staff.

Alleged racial vilification and harassment in employment

The complainant alleged that the sales manager in the small business where he worked displayed aggressive behaviour and made personal threats towards him because of his race. The complainant alleged that the sales manager called him "Slimy Pommie Git" and "English Slimy Prick" and said "You think this is harassment? I'll follow you around and be in your face all the time and make your life hell".

The complainant claimed that he met with the manager of the office to discuss the problem but felt the manager had ignored the racial discrimination issue. The complainant also stated that he complained to the managing director of the company but received no response. The complaint was resolved through conciliation with the company agreeing to pay the complainant his outstanding staff entitlements and to acknowledge the complainant's hurt feelings.

Alleged racial vilification and discrimination by school teacher

Several Aboriginal students alleged that they had been racially vilified by their teacher. The complainant's claimed that during an Aboriginal Studies lesson, the teacher asked the class to provide a list of words which describe Aboriginal people. The complainants claimed that when a student said `dirty' `smelly' the teacher said that these were good words and wrote them on the blackboard. However when someone suggested `beautiful' the teacher did not write this word on the board.

The teacher denied that any offensive words were used apart from `dirty' which he claims was a word suggested by an intellectually disabled student. The teacher claimed that if he had said "that is a good word" it would have been only to acknowledge that the word "dirty" could be linked with perceptions of Aboriginal people. The teacher's employer denied that the teacher's behaviour was inappropriate.

The complaints were settled at conciliation with the employer agreeing to provide private tutoring to the students; community room at the school for Aboriginal families which would be used to provide a meeting place for the principal, teachers and families; each student with a schoolbook and clothing allowance; each student with access to career guide programs; and cultural awareness training for staff.

The employer also agreed to review school policy and practice relating to Aboriginal students and to undertake a review of policies relating to race discrimination.

Alleged racial vilification at holiday resort

The complainant claimed that he was racially vilified during an argument with the owner of a shop within the resort. The complainant stated that he was waiting for assistance with his car which was parked outside the shop. The complainant claimed that an argument eventuated when the shop owner yelled at him to move his vehicle. The complainant alleged that on hearing the complainant speak German to his companions the owner said "f.. off you German bastards".

The complaint was resolved by an apology from the shop owner.

1998-99

Complaint of racial vilification and assault

Two prisoners lodged complaints of racial discrimination against their custodial officers. The complainants claimed that during an altercation with the officers, derogatory comments were made about their country of origin and they were called ‘black disease'. One complainant also alleged that he was physically assaulted by one of the officers. The respondent confirmed that an altercation had occurred but claimed that an internal investigation had found no evidence to support the allegations.

The matter was resolved through the conciliation process. The complainants had been released from prison when settlement negotiations took place. The respondent agreed to provide the complainants with a written apology and financial compensation of $ $5500 and $9500.

Complaint of discrimination in selection for employment

The complainant alleged he had been discriminated against on the basis of his race and national origin during the selection process for a position as a University lecturer. The complainant stated that he was the only applicant for the position but was not considered for the position because he was of a particular race. The University denied that the selection process was discriminatory but did concede that there had been administrative problems with the process.

The matter was resolved by payment of $7 000 compensation to the complainant.

Complaint of racial vilification and assault

The complainant claimed that he had been racially vilified when he double parked his vehicle to load some deliveries. The complainant claimed the respondent swore at him, told him to ‘go back to China ' and then got out of his car and punched him. The respondent did not dispute that the assault took place but alleged that he was provoked. The respondent denied that he assaulted the complainant because of his race.

The complaint was resolved through the conciliation process for a written apology and payment of $1 500 to the complainant.

Complaint regarding journal advertisement

The complainant claimed that a medical journal and a pharmaceutical company were inciting racial hatred when the journal published an advertisement for a non-steroidal medication. The photograph accompanying the advertisement was of a Chinese swimmer with the caption ‘at least some things in this world are still steroid free.' The respondent acknowledged that the advertisement could be perceived to be offensive to Chinese people and agreed to provide a written apology in two journals within two months of the date of the agreement.

Complaint of discrimination in employment

The complainant claimed that she was the subject of a racially offensive comment made by the wife of the owner of the shop in which she worked. The complainant claimed that the owner's wife instructed the supervisor to ‘chop that Asian bitch's hours until we get rid of her.' The complainant claims that she resigned because of the pressure placed on her by the owners and was so distressed that she sought counselling. The complainant provided two witness statements in support of her complaint. The respondent denied that the complainant was treated less favorably because of her race and claimed that the complainant resigned because she could not do the work.

The complaint was resolved through the conciliation process. The respondent agreed to provide the complainant with a written apology and financial compensation comprising four weeks wages and reimbursement of counselling expenses.

Complaint of discrimination due to accent

The complainant claimed he was discriminated against on the basis of his national origin when he applied for a job as a telephone customer service officer. The complainant claimed that during the telephone interview the manager said ‘you have an accent and I find it difficult to understand you'. This led to a dispute between the two and the complainant claimed that he was told that he would not be given the job. The manager denied making the comment and did not recall speaking to the complainant.

After further inquiries the matter settled with the respondent providing the complainant with a written apology for any hurt feelings.

Complaint of assault and vilification

The complainant, an Aboriginal woman, claimed that she was racially vilified and assaulted by a security guard. The complainant claimed she was called ‘gin' and beaten around the face. The complainant further claimed that the local police did not pursue her complaint against the security guard on the night of the assault nor later when she attended the station to make a statement.

The complaint was resolved through the conciliation process. The complainant was provided with a statement of regret and $2 000 compensation. It was also agreed that the police would undertake cultural awareness training within six months of the date of the agreement.

Complaint of racial vilification in radio broadcast

The complainant, who is Maori, alleged that a radio announcer, when referring to a sporting team said ‘all those filthy, dirty Maoris'. Shortly after the broadcast, the radio station directed the announcer to provide an on-air apology and terminated the announcer's employment. The complainant was satisfied with the action taken by the radio station.

1997-98

Roadside altercation

The complainant stated that she approached the respondent at a set of traffic lights and requested that he make a donation to a charitable organisation for which she was collecting. The complainant alleged that the respondent swore at her, said “you Asians go back to your own country” and assaulted her. The complainant's father-in-law was a witness to the incident. The matter was resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $1,500 financial compensation and provide a verbal apology.

Work conditions

The complainant alleged that he was referred to as “black” by a co-worker on at least two occasions. He further alleged that, when he advised his supervisor of the comments, little or no action was taken to redress the situation. The complainant also alleged that because he complained he was given fewer work shifts than his co-workers. The respondent's company stated that a full investigation of the complainant's concerns had been undertaken. The company claimed that it was the complainant's lack of availability, not the fact that he complained, which led to him receiving less work.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation. The respondent agreed to make the company's grievance handling procedures more accessible to staff, to provide the complainant with an apology and pay the complainant financial compensation of $3,425. A written apology was also provided by the co-worker who allegedly made the comments.

Purchase of equipment

An Aboriginal organisation alleged that it had been discriminated against by a government department on the grounds of race as the department had rejected the organisation's application to purchase equipment at the non-commercial rate. The department denied that race was a factor in its decision and stated that the complainant organisation's application did not meet the required criteria.

In conciliation, the department agreed to provide the complainant organisation with the equipment at non-commercial rates, subject to certain conditions.

Neighbourhood dispute

The complainant alleged her neighbour made insulting racially based comments about her in public. The complainant alleged that her neighbour said “You don't belong here. Get back to where you come from”. The neighbour denied saying the alleged words but advised the Commission that she was willing, in the hope of a more harmonious neighbourhood, to apologise for any perceived hurt that the complainant felt as a result of the incident. The complainant accepted the neighbour's apology as settlement of the complaint.

Harassment at work

The complainant alleged that he was subjected to racial abuse by co-workers who called him “coconut head” and “gorilla”. The complainant claimed that after years of such abuse he complained to management. The complainant stated that, following a management investigation, he was subjected to further acts of discrimination and due to the resulting stress was forced to take sick leave. The complainant provided medical evidence of his stress related condition. The respondent stated that there was evidence that the alleged events occurred. However as no individual employee could be identified as being responsible, no action could be taken by the company.

At conciliation the respondent agreed to make arrangements for the complainant to work on a different shift, reinstate the complainant's sick leave and annual leave, provide the complainant with an employment reference, implement discrimination policies, provide Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) training for managers and allow the complainant to take part in EEO training with a view to becoming a harassment officer within the company. The complainant was also paid $10,000 financial compensation for hurt and humiliation.

Termination of employment

The complainant, a white Australian woman, lodged a complaint against her previous employer, an Aboriginal organisation. The complainant alleged that an Aboriginal co-worker made derogatory comments about her racial background. The complainant stated that she made a complaint to management and the co-worker received a written warning. The complainant's employment was later terminated and the complainant alleged that this was because of her race. The respondent organisation denied the allegations and stated that the complainant's contract was not renewed because of her performance and complaints about her by co-workers and clients.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation. The respondent agreed to provide the complainant with a written apology, to pay financial compensation for lost wages ($1,038) and institute workplace grievance procedures.

Offensive comments by customer

The complainant is employed in a customer service position with a financial institution. The complainant alleged that while serving a customer he had difficulty with the transaction and in response the customer said “ I don't want it from you you're not an Australian, you don't know your work, go back to where you came from”. The customer denied making the alleged comment but agreed that there had been a dispute between himself and the complainant. The complainant provided evidence from his co-workers who witnessed the incident.

The complaint was resolved by the respondent providing the complainant with a written apology and financial compensation of $300 for hurt and humiliation.

1996-97

Verbal abuse

The complainant worked in the reception area of a company. She alleged that while serving the respondent, the respondent made a derogatory reference to the complainant's Aboriginality, in hearing of other customers. In conciliation, the respondent agreed to provide a public apology.

Travel

An Aboriginal complainant alleged that, in sorting out a mix up over travel arrangements, the respondent's employees favoured a non-Aboriginal customer, resulting in the cancellation of the complainant's booking and her having to wait three hours to travel. In conciliation, the respondent acknowledged that the mix up was their fault and acknowledged the complainant's sense of grievance. While denying any discriminatory treatment because of the complainant's Aboriginality, the respondent agreed to pay financial compensation of $11 000.

Housing

A complaint of racial discrimination was made by an Aboriginal couple against a Real Estate Agent through whom the couple were renting accommodation. It was claimed and confirmed that a property manager asked the owner of the property whether he minded renting to people who are Aboriginal. The couple claimed that the property manager followed up arrears in payment of rent more energetically than with other tenants and undertook property inspections more frequently.

During the investigation of the complaint, the property manager was counselled in relation to her actions and chose to leave her employment. The manager and owner of the Real Estate Agency agreed to pay the couple $900 compensation for hurt feelings and provided the couple with a written apology. An officer of the Commission ran a half day training session on the Racial Discrimination Act for staff at the Real Estate Agency.

Refusal of service

The complainants, three members of a remote Aboriginal community, alleged that when they attempted to join two white friends for drinks at the poolside of the hotel where the friends were registered guests, they were asked to leave because they were not wearing shoes, even though the friends and several other hotel guests in that area were also not wearing shoes. The complainants believed that they were treated in this way because of their race. When informed of the complaint the hotel manager was very apologetic. He advised that the duty manager, who was the subject of the complaint, no longer worked for the hotel and would definitely not be reemployed because management was aware that he did not relate well with Aboriginal customers. The manager confirmed that the hotel had a non-discriminatory policy and that the way in which the complainants had been treated was totally unacceptable. His apology was accepted by the complainants and the file closed as conciliated.

Harassment

An employee in the manufacturing sector alleged she had been the subject of racist taunts for several years by her co-workers. She said that she had become isolated in her workplace and thather attempts to stand up for herself had been met with increased hostility. Although she complained to her supervisors, she said they were unable to exert any pressure for changes of behaviour by her co-workers.

Following a conciliation conference, the respondent agreed to pay financial compensation and implement a training program and grievance process to address harassment in the workplace.

Accent at work

The complainant alleged he was denied the opportunity to apply for an advertised position because of his accent. The complainant alleged that he rang the employer about the vacancy but was told by the employer he was not suitable because of his accent. A statement confirming the allegation was provided by an employee of a large job placement agency who was told that the complainant was not a suitable applicant for the position because of his accent.

The respondent denied the allegations but provided $5 000 as an ex-gratia payment to the complainant. Both parties watched a video developed by the Commission called Accents Are Everywhere as part of the conciliation process.

Employment

The complainant alleged that he was discriminated against in the terms and conditions under which employment was offered because of his race. The complainant was employed by a large international organisation, whose head office was based overseas. The complainant claimed that, because he was a different race from the managers who were appointed from overseas, he was denied the opportunity to attend work functions and denied access to training and promotion. He claimed that staff notices were not written in English and that, as a result, he missed out on information that was necessary for him to perform his duties effectively.

The employer denied that it had discriminated against the employee on the basis of race. It was confirmed that cultural differences between management and employees had led to misunderstandings and general difficulties.

The complainant sought damages for loss of promotional opportunities, stress and humiliation. The complaint was settled for $41 263, a verbal apology and the provision of discounted products produced by the respondent company. The respondent company agreed to implement training programs for staff at all levels to ensure fair policies and practices for employment and promotion.

Racial hatred

The complainant was employed as a shop assistant. She claimed that while serving a customer, an ex-employee entered the shop and screamed abuse which was racially offensive. Witness statements from the complainant  s co workers and customers in the store supporting her allegations were provided. In settlement of the complaint the respondent agreed to pay $200 compensation for hurt feelings to the complainant. A written apology was also provided.