Broadcaster Antoinette Lattouf expands ABC complaint to include claim the national broadcaster is “racist”

Broadcaster and author Antoinette Lattouf has accused the ABC of “racism” and discriminating against people of Arab and Muslim backgrounds after she was sacked for social media posts.

Accusing the ABC of being “unsafe” for people of colour, Lattouf claims other journalists are on the brink of quitting after management threw them “under the bus” over strict rules about commenting on the Israel-Hamas war.

“Even for non-diverse journalists, my sacking and the sacking of others has a chilling effect on journalism. People are now too scared to report without fear or favour,” Ms Lattouf said.

“Despite the ABC’s rhetoric about diversity and inclusion, it is currently an unsafe workplace for journalists who are people of colour.”

Sacked after just three shifts filling in as a presenter on ABC Radio Sydney’s morning show, the journalist has now expanded her legal claim to include racial discrimination.

She understands the termination of her employment related to her posts about the Israel-Hamas war on social media.

The day before she was sacked she highlighted a Human Rights Watch social media post alleging the Israeli government is using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.

Ms Lattouf says in the claim that she was told by Acting Station Manager Mark Spurway on December 20 that she was “sounding great” and that the audience was “responding very well” but an hour later was sacked.

Shortly after she was praised for her performance she was summoned to a meeting with senior management and told she was terminated immediately because she shared the post.

“I’m aware of several diverse journalists who have either resigned or are on the brink of resigning because they are unfairly scrutinised and don’t believe their employer will back them and fear they will be next to be thrown under the bus,‘’ she said.

Lattouf is the author of the book How to Lose Friends and Influence White People which examines systematic racism in the media.

She has now engaged Australia’s leading workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein and expanded her Fair Work Commission complaint against the ABC to allege she was subjected to racial discrimination because of her ethnicity.

In a statement, Maurice Blackburn said it would be alleging the public broadcaster systemically discriminates against people with Arab or Muslim backgrounds as well as other people of colour.

In a statement, the law firm said that before leaving the building, Ms Lattouf was told by a manager that David Anderson had made the call to sack her, “despite pushback from radio staff, many who were visibly emotional as she departed.”

“Her dismissal was leaked to rival media outlets with an article published within an hour of her sacking and before she had even arrived home,” the statement said,

Mr Bornstein, who has acted said Ms Lattouf’s treatment was a clear breach of the Fair Work Act.

“The claim has now been amended to reflect that Antoinette Lattouf alleges that she was sacked by the ABC because she expressed a political opinion and also because of her race. Since October 7 and the ensuing conflict in the Middle East, it has become notorious in the media industry that Arab and Muslim journalists are being intimidated, censored and sacked,” Mr Bornstein said.

“In this case we will show that the ABC has not sacked white journalists for expressing political opinion, even where those journalists worked in news and current affairs. Antoinette’s role at the ABC was not a news or current affairs role. She shared four posts during her employment and was told that sharing the Human Rights Watch post was somehow a breach of the ABC’s social media policy.

“Then she was suddenly and humiliatingly sacked.

“We are seeking a detailed, public apology and compensation for harm to reputation and for distress and humiliation. In addition, Antoinette will seek an order that the ABC offer her a commensurate role back on air, as she is passionate about the importance of a representative public broadcaster. Finally, we are also seeking the imposition of penalties on the ABC to deter it from repeating this conduct.”

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