BHP truck driver sacked for anti-Muslim radio rant gets his job back

Tuesday 8 November, 2016 | By: Default Admin | Tags: unfair dismissal, Fair Work Commission

A truck driver sacked for broadcasting anti-Islamic comments to 100 colleagues over an internal radio station will return to work after his rant was found to be 'less offensive' because it was directed at people who shared his views.


BHP Billiton fired a man in February after a conversation between him and two colleagues discussing whether they would attend an upcoming Reclaim Australia rally was broadcast on a staff radio station, attracting complaints from two staff.

Workers at Mt Arthur coal mine in Muswellbrook, north west of Sydney, heard the man agree he had a 'complete gutful' of Muslims trying to 'change our way of life' and accused them of being 'f***ed up' after '1,400 years of bloody inbreeding'.

 

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He agreed that a hitman should be hired to 'cull dirtbag Australians' who did not 'deserve to be in this country', a report by the Fair Work Commission stated.

The driver also made homophobic slurs by suggesting a colleague was researching how to 'eat c**k' and would enjoy a 'a good tea-bagging' or to have his 'rear end banged up'.

The man blamed his behaviour on fatigue and said the conversation was just 'banter' and 'blokes having fun' to keep them awake during a 12.5 hour shift, but told bosses the comments were 'true' when questioned about the matter. 

The man also mentioned that he had no problems with killing Muslims as they had 'no problem' with executing Australians when during discussions with BHP about what disciplinary action should be taken against him.

He pointed out there were no Muslim workers rostered on that night and argued he would not have made the same comments on-air if there had been.

The mining giant launched an eight-week investigation into the matter and found the driver did not follow procedure relating to fatigue or safely using the radio channel and fired him for breaching company policy and not upholding 'charter values'.

The man remained unemployed for several months until an unfair dismissal claim was launched with the Fair Work Commission in July.

Commissioner Tony Saunders said the man's exemplary behavioural record with the company was not taken into account when he was disciplined and found BHP's reaction 'too harsh', the Herald Sun reported.

He agreed the comments 'incited derogatory views' of a race or religion but argued the rant was not highly offensive as it was not directed at an individual.
BHP appealed the decision as it believed the offensive material broadcast to its staff should be considered highly serious as it incited anti-Muslim views.

The appeal was struck down on Friday and BHP were ordered to re-hire the driver.
Fair Work vice-president Adam Hatcher and deputy president Nicole Wells agreed the offending was less serious as there was not an individual victim who felt persecuted.

'It is reasonable to conclude, for example, that for an employee to personally direct anti-Muslim comments at a fellow employee who is known to be of the Islamic faith is objectively more serious than the expression of anti-Muslim opinions to fellow employees who are known to hold similar views,' they said in their report.

Commissioner Leigh Johns was appalled by his colleagues and argued that while the driver is entitled to his opinion, it was 'unjust' that he not lose his job for broadcasting it to the workforce.
'Mount Arthur [the BHP subsidiary] took decisive action to eliminate Islamophobia and homophobia in its workplace. It should have been commended for its action, not punished by being required to take [the miner] back.' 

This is a copy of an article published by dailymail.co.uk on 8 November 2016.

 

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