Journalist Antoinette Lattouf scores a win in unfair dismissal case against ABC

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun16,2024
Journalist and presenter Antoinette Lattouf was sacked by the ABC after filling a casual presenting role last year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has found in her unfair dismissal case.
on ABC Radio Sydney in December last year, three days into a five-day spot at the public broadcaster.
It came after she shared a post from Human Rights Watch claiming Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.
Lattouf’s lawyer Josh Bornstein said the decision “comprehensively rejected” the ABC’s jurisdictional challenge, adding her unlawful termination case “can now proceed to the Federal Court”.

Lattouf filed her unlawful termination claim with the Federal Court in February.

In Lattouf’s submission to the FWC, she argued she was unlawfully terminated on the grounds of political opinion and the grounds of race.
In a decision handed down on Monday, the FWC dismissed the ABC’s argument that it did not sack Lattouf because it paid her for all five shifts.
The FWC said it found that the employment relationship between the Lebanese-Australian journalist and the ABC was terminated at the ABC’s initiative.

“The ABC did not reply to the applicant’s clarification email at all, let alone confirm or deny that the applicant remained employed by the ABC,” FWC deputy president Gerard Boyce said in his reasoning.

Three women and a man walk together on a street.

Journalist Antoinette Lattouf (2nd from left) after leaving a Fair Work Commission hearing in Sydney in January. Source: AAP / Toby Zerna

He said while Lattouf was only told at a meeting that she was being “taken off-air”, the ABC used terminology internally such as “not needed for the rest of the week”, and “stand down”.

Lattouf had alleged that she was told by her manager in a December meeting she was being let go because of the HRW social media post and it was a breach of the social media policy.
She asked if she was able to post if another “journalist gets killed or a reputable NGO like Amnesty International has information” and “just quote an agency” and alleges she was told “yes that’s fine”.

Following the decision on Monday, Lattouf said the ABC’s challenge was a waste of taxpayers’ money and that she was “disappointed” that she was fired for posting “a fact the ABC itself was also reporting”.

In his reasoning, Boyce wrote the conversation was to the following effect: that the ABC had “received heaps of complaints from pro-Israel lobbyists who are not happy that ABC Radio Sydney” had placed Lattouf on air.
Lattouf was then asked to “keep a low profile on social media” to which she agreed but advised she would make social media posts from “reputable sources” about “facts”.
The manager’s advice was that it would be best to make no social media posts at all for the rest of the week.
But Boyce said there was confusion within the ABC as to whether she was ‘advised’ or ‘directed’ not to make posts.

Boyce said even if the payments made to Lattouf after she was taken off-air can be said to be attributable to the ABC’s casual employment contract, “which I have significant doubts about, at best they extend the December Engagement from a contractual perspective, but not from an employment relationship perspective”.

Who is Antoinette Lattouf?

Antoinette Lattouf is a journalist and co-founder of Media Diversity Australia.
She has worked across Australian television, online, and radio platforms while at the same time advocating for social issues close to her heart.

In 2019, her book How to Lose Friends and Influence White People was published. It’s described as “a guide through the balancing act of activist, advocate and ally”.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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