An experienced ABC radio host who was sacked only hours after sharing a social media post about the war in Gaza claims she was discriminated against because of her Arab and Muslim background.
Fill-in host for Sydney’s Mornings radio, Antoinette Lattouf, was fired by the ABC last month after reposting a story by Human Rights Watch alleging Israel was using starvation as a weapon in Gaza.
Ms Lattouf, who is of Lebanese descent, has alleged in a complaint to the Fair Work Commission that she was “humiliatingly” fired for “expressing a political opinion and because of her race”.
On Thursday, Ms Lattouf announced she had hired workplace lawyer Josh Bornstein as she expanded her allegations in her Fair Work claim against the ABC, including what she said was “systemic discrimination”.
In her complaint, the long-time presenter alleges the public broadcaster systematically discriminated against “people with Arab or Muslim backgrounds as well as other people of colour”.
“I’m a big supporter of public broadcasting. I will always advocate for a well-funded, fair, independent and representative ABC. Our democracy is more enriched for it,” she said in a statement.
“This is why it is disheartening to not only witness the horrendous treatment of people of colour by the ABC over the years, but now to personally – and so publicly – feel its wrath.”
Ms Lattouf alleged that despite the ABC’s rhetoric about “diversity and inclusion”, the broadcaster was “currently an unsafe workplace for journalists who are people of colour”.
She claimed journalists from diverse backgrounds were on the brink of resigning because of “unfair scrutiny”, and feared the national broadcaster would “throw them under the bus”.
The firing of Ms Lattouf, who had worked at the ABC on-and-off for more than a decade, made headlines late last year amid mounting scrutiny of broadcaster’s workplace culture.
In a statement, Ms Lattouf alleged was told by the broadcaster on December 20 that she was “sounding great” and that the audience was “responding very well”.
Within an hour, she said she had been called into a meeting by management when she was told she would be terminated immediately because of the social media post.
Ms Lattouf said news of her dismissal was allegedly leaked to rival media outlets with an article published within an hour of her sacking, before she had even arrived to her home.
Mr Bornstein, who represented former SBS journalist Scott McIntyre – who was also sacked over a tweet, said Ms Lattouf’s treatment was a clear breach of the Fair Work Act.
“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.”
“We are seeking a detailed, public apology and compensation for harm to reputation and for distress and humiliation … and the imposition of penalties on the ABC to deter it from repeating this conduct.”
Mr Bornstein said Ms Lattouf would also be seeking an order that the ABC offer her a commensurate role back on air, as she was “passionate about the importance of a representative public broadcaster”.