Cricket Australia staffer sacked over abortion tweets ‘fired for political opinion’: lawyer


Posted

July 30, 2018 18:49:09

The lawyer representing a woman allegedly sacked over a series of tweets criticising the Tasmanian Government and abortion rights in the state believes there is more to the case than workplace social media policy.

Angela Williamson, 39, is taking Cricket Australia to the Fair Work Commission after she was dismissed from her Hobart-based government relations role.

Ms Williamson was among the women forced to fly to the mainland to have a termination after Tasmania’s only abortion provider closed.

She had been campaigning on Twitter for abortion reform in Tasmania and was dismissed at the end of June.

In a statement, a Cricket Australia spokesperson said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on Ms Williamson’s circumstances, but said:

“Cricket Australia respects an individual’s right to their opinion. However, it expects that employees will refrain from making offensive comments that contravene the organisation’s social media policy.”

However, Ms Williamsons’ lawyer Kamal Farouque said Ms Williamson should not have been sacked over the tweets.

“The critical issue here is this, under the Fair Work Act you can’t be sacked because you expressed a political opinion,” he said.

“She expressed a political opinion about an issue that was being debated in Parliament and in the public in Tasmania, and she lost her job because of it.

“We don’t think any social media policy can stop the expression of people’s political views.”

Mr Farouque said Ms Williamson was seeking her job back and compensation for the loss suffered.

“She enjoyed the job at Cricket Australia. No-one should lose their job in these circumstances,” he said.

Minister denies Government ‘discussed private material’

Senior Liberal staffer Martine Haley was forced to quit her post in March after she was caught using a fake social media account to troll people.

Documents showed Ms Haley’s email account was used to send photos of Ms Williamson’s comments on Twitter about abortion to her employer in an apparent attempt to have her reprimanded.

Ms Williamson has alleged a senior member of the State Government later disclosed the fact she had had a pregnancy terminated to her employer.

“As part of the case there’ll be a full examination of the reasons that Cricket Australia gave for the [job] termination, whether they were in fact true or real reasons,” Mr Farouque said.

“There’s so much more to this case than some corporate-style social media policy.”

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the Government was not responsible for decisions made by Cricket Australia.

“It’s not appropriate to disclose conversations that are private in nature, and importantly it must be understood that the Government is not in a position to be commenting on a case when there are active legal moves being made against Cricket Australia by Ms Williamson,” he said.

“The Government hasn’t discussed any private material, and that is anything that wasn’t already in the public domain either in conversation and those haven’t been raised or discussed.”

Tweets were ‘innocuous’, ‘vanilla’: Women’s Legal Service

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania managing solicitor Susan Fahey said she did not think Ms Williamson had been treated fairly.

“Looking at the tweets, I don’t think they’re anything other than sort of informed, fairly innocuous, rather vanilla tweets,” she said.

“To be fired, and it would seem without a proper process or without much of a process before that, it doesn’t appear to be a fair process at all.”

On Twitter, anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinski retweeted a link from The Australian reporter Rebecca Sullivan.

“Men can lie, cheat, be involved in sex scandals, assault their partners and still keep their jobs,” Ms Sullivan’s tweet reads.

“For women it’s one abortion, a few tweets and you’re done. WTF.”

Cricket writer Geoff Lemon also tweeted, saying if someone listed every Cricket Australia scandal into one tweet “the servers would explode”.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

cricket,

sport,

abortion,

social-media,

hobart-7000,

tas,

australia





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