Toyota not liable for workers' racist comments

Cases

Toyota not liable for workers' racist comments

Despite accepting a worker had been racially victimised by co-workers, a Victorian tribunal has ruled Toyota acted appropriately and any further action against the perpetrators could’ve ‘threatened’ the worker’s safety.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Despite accepting a worker had been racially victimised by co-workers, a Victorian tribunal has ruled Toyota acted appropriately and any further action against the perpetrators could’ve ‘threatened’ the worker’s safety.

A Sri Lankan born maintenance fitter with Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd claimed he suffered with from an adjustment disorder with severe chronic depressed mood and anxiety, and post-traumatic work-related stress after being repeatedly sworn at and the victim of graffiti.

He said colleagues called him a ‘black c-t’, ‘black bast-d’ and a ‘black scab’ after he refused to take part in industrial action and has to now take sedatives and anti-depressants to cope with his stress-related condition.

He also claimed he was threatened that ‘if you don’t go on strike you will have to pay the price’.

The worker claimed Toyota had failed to take action against the workers when he complained to HR, and that the company was vicariously liable for their actions.

Steps adequate

Deputy President, Michael Macnamara, accepted the worker’s evidence that the incidents of racial abuse, threats and the graffiti did occur.

However, he found Toyota management ‘cannot be expected to supervise every word that comes out of the mouth of a worker’.

He said any further action taken by Toyota such as fingerprinting the toilets to ascertain the perpetrator were unreliable, and might also serve to increase the ‘disharmony and the hostility’ towards the worker.

‘If hypothetically the perpetrator of these matters, or perpetrators if more than one, were established - let us suppose it was a hypothetical individual Mr X - If any significant sanction were applied to him, (he would presumably be an ardent unionist), this might make Mr X a martyr to the management and Mr Walgama, with the net result for Mr Walgama’s security at work might be threatened,’ DP Macnamara said. ‘In summary, therefore, I am satisfied that Toyota, in a general sense, took reasonable steps … further proposed steps would not have been reasonable either having regard to the resources that they would have required or the potential backlash against Mr Walgama that they might have created.’

The worker’s appeal was dismissed.

Walgama v Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd (Anti Discrimination) [2007] VCAT 1318 (2 August 2007)

Related

Qantas guilty of race, disability discrimination

Abusive employee not given a 'fair go'
 

 

Post details