Tweet justice for sacked SBS reporter

Tweet justice for sacked SBS reporter
By Alison Williams on 2 October 2015 Journalist Scott McIntyre will be allowed to continue his case for unlawful termination against SBS, after his sacking for controversial tweets regarding Anzac Day earlier this year.

McIntyre originally applied to the Fair Work Commission under the general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act, arguing his tweets were political opinion, which is allowed under section 351 of the Fair Work Act.

However, it emerged this legal ground was not available as it is not unlawful to discriminate on the ground of political opinion in New South Wales (where McIntyre was located when he made the tweets). 

McIntyre then made an application to the Fair Work Commission under section 773 of the Fair Work Act for unlawful termination. SBS, in response, tried to have his application struck out on the ground it had been lodged out of time. 

After considering the jurisdictional arguments, FW Commissioner Cambridge however found in favour of McIntyre, stating he did not think the Fair Work Act should be interpreted to “deprive an individual” of their “day in court”.

McIntyre, he said, was not seeking to have his case heard in multiple proceedings. He was entitled to continue his legal action as “exceptional circumstances exist”, because of the error made by his legal team in making the application under a section of the act which was “doomed to fail”.

Commissioner Cambridge acknowledged the case involved “unusual circumstances”, due to “the public controversy” around McIntyre’s Anzac Day tweets. In summarising, he said:

“It is perhaps sadly ironic that many members of the Australian Defence Force lost their lives in the earnest pursuit of the protection of rights and freedoms such as the access to a fair hearing which the applicant is entitled to obtain.”

McIntyre v Special Broadcasting Services Corporation T/A SBS Corporation [2015] FWC 6768

See also: Express yourself: sacked SBS reporter off to FWC


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