Race case studies
The race case summaries are grouped into two categories: court and tribunal decisions, and conciliated outcomes.
Court and tribunal decisions are made after all the evidence is heard, including details of loss and damage. The full text of court and tribunal decisions is available from:
Conciliated outcomes are where the parties have reached an agreement through conciliation at the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.
Court and tribunal decisions
Language ability a characteristic of race
|Type of outcome||Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal decision|
|Area||Administration of State laws and programs|
Summary: A woman who was of Chinese origin, and who had limited ability to communicate in English, alleged that WorkCover failed to provide an interpreter for her when communicating about her claim. Her complaint was dismissed by the tribunal and she appealed on the basis that the tribunal was wrong about the law.
The Commission intervened in the appeal and made submissions about language as a characteristic of race, and imposing a term in indirect discrimination. Section 8 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 extends the meaning of discrimination on the basis of an attribute to include the characteristics of an attribute.
The decision of the tribunal was set aside on two of the five grounds of appeal, both of which were questions of law. The Appeal Tribunal found:
In discussion about direct discrimination and section 8, the Appeal Tribunal considered:
The decision to dismiss the complaint was set aside, and the complaint was remitted for reconsideration before the same tribunal members who heard it at first instance.
Xi v WorkCover Queensland  QCATA 134 (23 May 2016)
Entertainment venue excluded Asian customers
The complainant, with a group of 17 friends, all of South-East Asian descent and appearance, paid entry fees and entered an entertainment venue.
After the complainant had bought a drink, the security staff approached him and instructed him to leave. When he asked why the guard replied,
There was an incident with some folks last week, and the owner doesn't want to deal with you today. When he responded that he and his friends could not have been involved with the previous week's incident, the guard said,
He (the owner) doesn't care; he doesn't want to deal with you folks today. The owner said there's too many Orientals here for his liking. I'm just doing my job and listening to the boss. A minimum of 30 to 40 Asian people were forced to leave the venue.
At the conciliation conference, the owner who had given the directions for the complainant and others to leave explained that the reason for their removal was because he thought they were associated with some people of South-East Asian appearance he had found snorting cocaine in the toilets.
The owner apologised for the misunderstanding, agreed to implement an anti-discrimination policy for the venue, agreed to anti-discrimination training for staff, and repaid the complainant his entry fees plus his taxi fare. The complainant did not want financial compensation for his experience, but wanted to ensure that the venue personnel were aware that the conduct was unlawful.
The venue owner offered to pay a nominal amount to the complainant or a larger sum as a donation to a charity of the complainant's choice. The complainant accepted the charity donation.
Worker called offensive racist names
The complainant was a man who arrived in Australia as a refugee from El Salvador.
He alleged race discrimination during his ten month employment as a labourer in a manufacturing business. He claimed that his supervisor called him highly offensive names on a daily basis, became impatient with him or made fun of his English language skills, and generally treated him less favourably than other workers.
The complainant raised his concerns with his employer, who did little to remedy the situation. The complainant claims he resigned his employment following racial harassment by his supervisor.
At the conciliation conference the supervisor provided an emotional apology to the complainant acknowledging that he had treated the complainant unfairly. Although the company expressed a wish for the complainant to return to their employment, the complainant accepted a later financial offer of compensation and an apology for the hurt and humiliation experienced by him.
Racial abuse and threats at work
The complainant alleged that a co-worker had racially abused him and made threats of violence. He complained to the employer and the employer investigated the complaint and found parts of it to be substantiated. The employer transferred the co-worker to another worksite and required him to attend anger management counselling. He was also given a written warning that his employment would be terminated if there was any further similar behaviour, and he apologised to the complainant.
The employer provided the complainant with counselling, but he had taken sick leave as a result of the stress the event had caused. The complainant had expected the co-worker to be dismissed immediately, and he felt that his employer had not treated his complaint with the seriousness it deserved. He made a complaint to the Commission.
Before the conciliation conference the co-worker provided a written response in which he admitted the events, with some minor differences about the context in which they occurred. The written response included an apology to the complainant.
At the conciliation conference the complainant talked about the effect that the incident had on him, and his ability to cope at work and at home. The co-worker reiterated his apology, and disclosed that he also had been the subject of racial abuse in the past which made him more ashamed of what he had done to the complainant. The complainant accepted the apology.
The employer agreed to:
- restore the complainant's sick leave balance (8 days) that he had before taking sick leave because of the incident;
- make a short educational video for use in workplace
toolbox talksin which the complainant would speak about the effect on workers of race discrimination in the workplace; and
- provide formal training about discrimination and workplace harassment on a rotational basis throughout its many worksites.