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Vic: Telstra employee claims discrimination for being an Aussie

By Daniel Fogarty
06 Jan 2009 3:24 PM

MELBOURNE, Jan 6 AAP - A call centre worker who claimed he was treated unfairly by Telstra because he was Australian and more outspoken than foreign-born colleagues has lost an anti-discrimination case.

John Drummond, 58, told the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) he was one of only two Australians in a group training to become Telstra sales staff in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood.

Other trainees were from India, the Philippines, Somalia, Japan, Greece and New Zealand.

Mr Drummond claims he was unfairly disciplined by a supervisor because he was more likely to speak out against Telstra's work practices than foreign-born employees.

"(Telstra) thought that the workers from overseas countries were less likely to question work practices as they felt intimidated and did not want to do or say anything that would jeopardise their employment," he told the tribunal.

Mr Drummond resigned from the job after being disciplined, allegedly saying: "If it's not working, you move on. I've been married twice before so I know."

In a document titled Performance Improvement Plan, a Telstra sub-contractor Kelly Services, claimed Mr Drummond was "not following instructions, had a negative attitude, made inappropriate jokes and was late when returning from breaks".

But Mr Drummond claimed the real reason for the discrimination was his age and race.

Telstra's lawyer Richard Dalton rejected claims of discrimination.

"(Mr Drummond) has no reasonable prospects of establishing that speaking up and not feeling intimidated are characteristics generally imputed to persons of race or nationality," he said.

VCAT deputy president Michael Macnamara agreed there had been no discrimination.

"There is no substantive proof of any type that Mr Drummond was singled out for less favourable treatment by Telstra or by Kellys by reason of his race," Mr Macnamara said.

"There is no substance in the allegation of racial discrimination hence it is lacking in substance and is appropriate for summary dismissal."