Same-sex marriage: Fair Work to investigate teen ‘let go’ over No vote

The Australian, September 20, 2017

Federal workplace investigators are seeking to interview the Christian teenager ”let go” for opposing same sex marriage as former Employment Minister Eric Abetz claims her former boss could have breached the Fair Work Act.

But the Fair Work Ombudsman may have no jurisdiction if the teenager, who wants to be identified only as “Madeline”, was engaged as a contractor as her former Canberra boss, Madlin Sims claims.

A spokesman for the ombudsman said today the agency’s investigators were seeking to interview Madeline and Ms Sims over the teenager’s alleged dismissal for expressing opposition to same sex marriage.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is aware of this matter and in order to form an assessment as to whether any workplace laws have been breached will be contacting the parties involved as part of its inquiries,’’ a spokesman said.

Under the Fair Work Act, unlawful workplace discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or prospective employee due to their political opinion.

Adverse action include dismissing an employee for a discriminatory reason. The protections cover full-time, part time and casual employees, probationary employees, apprentices, trainees and individuals employed for fixed periods of time or tasks.

However, Ms Sims has said on social media that she employed Madeline as a contractor. If she is a contractor, she would fall outside the agency’s jurisdiction.

Ms Sims reportedly issued Madeline with invoices for her work, suggesting she was engaged as a contractor.

But the ombudsman’s investigators will assess whether Madeline was correctly classified as a contractor and whether she should have been engaged as an employee.

Senator Abetz, a leading opponent of marriage equality, said it was unlawful for an employer to take any action against an employee on the basis of a political opinion, including voting ‘no’ in the marriage survey,

“It may be a breach of the Fair Work laws,’’ he said,

“To assert that voting “no” is homophobic as claimed by the employer is demonstrably false and indicative of the unacceptable bullying and name-calling engaged in by the “yes” campaign.

“There are literally thousands of gay Australians who will be voting “no”, like millions of others, they are not homophobic — they’re concerned about the consequences for parental rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to conscientious objection.”

‘Job security shouldn’t be threatened’

Bill Shorten says no one should be at risk of losing their job due to their views on same-sex marriage.

The Opposition Leader would not comment on the Christian teenager who was “fired” due to her No stance, saying he didn’t know the details of the case.

But he said no worker’s employment should be at risk due to their views on the issue.

“People should not be dismissed from their employment for having different views about marriage equality in this country,” Mr Shorten said.

“Peoples’ job security shouldn’t be threatened by that. I do hasten to add I don’t know all the facts of this case but no one should risk losing their job because they are either voting Yes or No.”

MP: ‘No one should be sacked for expressing their views’

Labor frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite earlier criticised the employer who ‘let go’ a woman because she was against same-sex marriage, declaring it may have been illegal.

Mr Thistlethwaite said this morning no one should lose their job for expressing an opinion on the postal survey after an 18-year-old Christian was ‘let go’ from a children’s party business for a Facebook post which showed her opposition to changing the Marriage Act.

Madeline, 18, last night told The Australian she had worked two shifts for Capital Kids Parties. She volunteered her time on Sunday morning for her final shift at an ­Alzheimer’s and dementia ­fundraiser.

On Sunday night, Madeline received a message from business owner Madlin Sims saying she was being “let go” because she was opposed to same-sex marriage. Madeline was not officially sacked because she was a contractor, not an official employee. But she was informed her services would not be required again.

Ms Sims published a Facebook comment yesterday clarifying that the person she had “fired” was a contractor and suggested that she could not risk letting that person work around young children because she might pass on her views. “I stand by my decision to let go of this contractor,” Ms Sims ­declared.

“No one should be sacked for expressing their views on this marriage equality survey at all,” Mr Thistlethwaite told Sky News.

“We did warn about this, the Labor Party warned the government that if you go down this path of a divisive and vitriolic survey you will create this division within Australian society.

“But at the end of the day no one should be sacked for expressing what is inherently a political view and that may run foul of legislation in Australia.”

Mr Thistlethwaite also played down concerns in the community about religious freedoms being compromised if same-sex marriage was legalised.

“One constituent has raised it with mine and that is overwhelmed by the literally hundreds of constituents that support marriage equality,” he said.

“At the end of the day, all we are doing here is giving gay couples the right to get married, we are creating a bit more happiness in Australia.

“Now why would anyone be opposed to that? We are not going to change freedom of speech, we are not going to change freedom of religion, we are not going to change peoples ability to talk about things and have their views on things.

“All we are doing is granting same-sex couples she opportunity to get married and I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.”