‘Token white guy’ wins RBA unfair dismissal case
A man fired from his job at the Reserve Bank of Australia for sending a racist group message has won an unfair dismissal case, exposing the toxic work culture in his department.
Martin Bajelis was sacked from his position in the IT department after a WhatsApp message, that was meant for his wife, was accidentally sent to a work group chat.
n the text Mr Bajelis implied Asian children were less likely to "understand" their schoolwork.
" … I realised the difference between Asians and Anglos.
"Asians have no interest in understanding, they are content to just learn the formulas or routines and it doesn't matter if they understand them," the text read.
A minute later he sent: "That's why they can't solve problems."
Mr Bajelis was quick to realise his mistake and delete the messages but not before they had been seen by eight of his colleagues and screenshots were taken.
The senior network engineer apologised for the racist message, but the damage was done - the screenshots spread and 24 of his colleagues eventually viewed the outburst.
He was fired a month later.
A manager in the department claimed that two-thirds of staffers were of Asian or South Asian heritage.
Mr Bajelis said he never meant to hurt anyone but acknowledges the texts were racist. Two colleagues complained about the messages while one said she would not be able to work with Mr Bajelis if he returned.
An investigation by the Fair Work Commission probe into the dismissal has revealed racial tensions and allegations of bullying in the Reserve Bank
Mr Bajelis said he was the victim of racially targeted bullying and alleged colleagues would refer to him as the "token white guy", which he complained to management about.
Fair Work Commission deputy Bryce Cross said the man's dismissal was "harsh, unjust and unreasonable".
"Quite obviously, it would have been preferable that the initial messages were not sent. However, I do not consider that the sending of the initial messages has precluded an ongoing work relationship," Mr Cross said.
Originally published as 'Token white guy' wins RBA unfair dismissal case