The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been accused of racial discrimination by former employee Antoinette Lattouf in her Fair Work Commission case against the public broadcaster.
Lattouf has retained workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein for her case against her former employee, alleging she was sacked “because of her ethnicity”.
Lattouf’s complaint also alleges the public broadcaster “systemically discriminates against people with Arab or Muslim backgrounds as well as other people of colour.”
Lattouf was sacked by the broadcaster in December for posting pro-Palestine content on her social media platforms.
In a statement sent to media by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, Lattouf alleges she was terminated by senior management “because she had reposted a Human Rights Watch (HRW) social media post” that was critical of Israel.
Lattouf said in the statement: “I’m a big supporter of public broadcasting. I will always advocate for a well-funded, fair, independent and representative ABC. Our democracy is more enriched for it. This is why it is disheartening to not only witness the horrendous treatment of people of colour by the ABC over the years but now to personally – and so publicly – feel its wrath.
“Despite the ABC’s rhetoric about diversity and inclusion, it is currently an unsafe workplace for journalists who are people of colour. I’m aware of several diverse journalists who have either resigned or are on the brink of resigning because they are unfairly scrutinised and don’t believe their employer will back them and fear they will be next to be thrown under the bus,” said Lattouf.
Mr Bornstein said: “The claim has now been amended to reflect that Antoinette Lattouf alleges that she was sacked by the ABC because she expressed a political opinion and also because of her race. Since October 7 and the ensuing conflict in the Middle East, it has become notorious in the media industry that Arab and Muslim journalists are being intimidated, censored and sacked.”
Lattouf is seeking “a detailed, public apology and compensation for harm to reputation and for distress and humiliation”, according to the statement. She will also seek to return to an on-air role at the ABC “as she is passionate about the importance of a representative public broadcaster.”
In November, ABC news director Justin Stevens wrote a memo to staff warning that sharing opinions “may bring into question your impartiality or that of the ABC’s coverage”. “Maintaining trust and credibility as an ABC staff member means you forgo the opportunity to share your opinions about stories on which you report or may be involved in.”