The Age

Saturday 11 September 1999

Sacked: for being Australian and male

The Age

Westco Jeans sacked a store manager because he was an Australian male and not an ethnic female, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found yesterday.

Mr Tom Kearney was awarded $1313 in damages after the tribunal found the jeans company discriminated against him because of his race and sex.

``The tribunal finds it improbable that Mr Kearney was dismissed for unsatisfactory performance and accepts his evidence ... it was because he was Australian and male,'' one tribunal member, Ms Lillian Cooney, found.

The tribunal was told Mr Kearney was hired by Jeans Teams Pty Ltd, trading as Westco Jeans, to begin work on 21January by a store managers, Ms Eva Jove.

Ms Jove told him after three weeks she would recommend him for a management position to an area supervisor, Ms Sebia Logo.

On his first day at a different store a staff member expressed surprise, saying: ``Westco doesn't hire males.''

Mr Kearney told the tribunal he overheard two phone calls by Ms Logo in which she was asking the nationality of the person on the other end. Another staff member, who gave him a lift home on his first day told him he was likely to be sacked soon because Ms Logo had told Ms Jove to ``get rid of that boy''.

That evening Ms Jove phoned and sacked him, saying she had been threatened with demotion by Ms Logo. Mr Kearney asked why he was being sacked and Ms Jove replied that she didn't know ``other than that he was Australian and a male''.

Another store manager, Ms Natasha Anderson, told the tribunal that Mr Kearney was hardworking.

Mr Kearney said he was overwhelmed by the tribunal decision. ``You don't really hear of this happening to Australian males,'' he said.

He said at first he wanted an apology but it became an issue of principle.

The general manager of Jeans Team, Mr Paul De Lutis, told the tribunal store managers sacked their own staff but the company had an equal opportunity policy.

Copyright © David Syme & Co 1999.