Casino Canberra in Australia has unsuccessfully defended its position that it discriminated against a long-time employee. An appeals court in the Australian Capital Territory shot down its assertion, ending a feud brewing for the past four years.
Several years ago, Blue Whale Entertainment wanted to purchase Aquis Entertainment, a company in Australia that owns, among others, Casino Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Blue Whale failed to secure the regulatory permissions it needed and the sale fizzled.
While talks were still taking place, Bryan Bradford Kidman, an employee of Casino Canberra since 2003, participated in an interview with The Canberra Times. He was representing the United Voice Union and voiced his concerns over how the sale might impact employment.
Casino Canberra wasn’t happy about the public appearance. Company brass sent him a letter admonishing him for his interview and threatening him with potential repercussions. That set off a chain of events that didn’t conclude until last week. The score is now Kidman – 2, Aquis – 0.
Discrimination Claims Upheld
Claims that Kidman broke protocol by participating in the interview led to allegations that Casino Canberra was discriminating against the long-time employee. A delegate from the United Voice Union, now the United Workers Union, filed a complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission, which sent it to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The complaint argued that Casino Canberra executives should have never threatened any type of retribution. Kidman, as a union representative, was only looking out for the best interests of the workforce should the Blue Whale-Aquis deal go through.
In taking up the complaint, the court, in 2020, determined that the casino had violated the ACT Discrimination Act. The company showed “unfavorable” treatment to Kidman and his employment status because of his activity in the gaming industry. As a result, had to make a few adjustments and pay a fine.
In addition, Kidman felt that the response was a sign that he would never receive any type of ascension or pay raise. This was in spite of his long tenure with the company. The casino’s intervention could also be an attempt to send a message to all other employees.
Casino Canberra wasn’t happy with the results and decided to appeal. It presented its case to an ACT appeals court, but the outcome was the same. The court determined that the casino was wrong and the complainants were right.
It’s the Principle of the Matter
The appeals court upheld everything the previous judges determined. It asserted that “because of [Kidman’s] industrial activity, Casino Canberra unlawfully discriminated against him.” The casino’s response also reflected a “power imbalance” that struck at the union’s position as a representative of Casino Canberra’s employees.
The casino was obviously only trying to prove a point by appealing the initial ruling. The court had hit it with four violations and ordered it to pay a fine. The amount of the fine is less than what the casino makes in an average couple of hours.
What Casino Canberra spent trying to defend itself was undoubtedly more than if it had just paid up and moved on. The court had fined the casino only AU$8,620 (US$6,352). AU$4,000 (US$2,946) was for damages and the rest for legal fees.
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