Inappropriate remarks about ethnicity and religious identity

April 2022

Yousef* is Muslim and has a Palestinian background. He worked as a senior accountant in a human services organisation. 

Yousef’s colleagues would often make inappropriate remarks about his ethnicity and religious identity. They would:

  • quiz him about his level of religious commitment
  • call him a ‘wog’
  • make jokes about Islam and Muslims
  • use derogatory terms to describe people of middle eastern background 
  • wave the Quran at him whilst mockingly shouting ‘assalamu alaikum’ 
  • say that Islam promoted beheading 
  • refuse to touch items he had touched
  • unfairly scrutinise his work.

Yousef stated that when he made an internal complaint about how he was being treated, he was victimised by his employer when his co-workers retaliated by making unwarranted and vexatious complaints about him.

Yousef then lodged a complaint of race discrimination and victimisation with ADNSW.

The matter was resolved at a conciliation conference when the parties agreed to a: 

  • written apology 
  • financial settlement
  • commitment to continue to roll out comprehensive staff training on bullying and harassment
  • change of work location for Yousef. 

Note: The definition of Race in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) includes ethno-religious or national origin. The term ‘ethno-religious origin’ has previously been held to signify a strong association between a person's or a group's nationality or ethnicity, culture, history and his, her or its religious beliefs and practices.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual

Last updated:

10 Aug 2022

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