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Casino Canberra loses battle over employee discrimination allegations

Posted: April 18, 2022, 5:57 a.m.

Last update: April 18, 2022, 9:08 a.m.

Casino Canberra in Australia has unsuccessfully defended its position that it discriminates against a long-time employee. An Australian Capital Territory Court of Appeal dismissed his claim, ending a four-year-old dispute.

Canberra Casino
Casino Canberra, owned by Aquis Entertainment in Australia. The casino lost its appeal of an employee discrimination lawsuit. (Picture: Inside the Asian Game)

Several years ago, Blue Whale Entertainment wanted to buy Aquis Entertainment, an Australian company that owns, among other things, Casino Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Blue Whale failed to obtain the regulatory clearances it needed and the sale fell through.

While the talks were still ongoing, Bryan Bradford Kidman, an employee of Casino Canberra since 2003, took part in an interview with Canberra time. He represented United Voice Union and raised concerns about the potential impact of the sale on jobs.

Casino Canberra was not happy with the public appearance. Company management sent him a letter scolding him for his interview and threatening potential repercussions. It started a chain of events that only ended last week. The score is now Kidman – 2, Aquis – 0.

Discrimination allegations confirmed

Claims that Kidman broke protocol by participating in the interview led to allegations that Casino Canberra discriminated against the longtime employee. A delegate from the United Voice Union, now United Workers Union, filed a complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission, which forwarded it to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The complaint argued that Casino Canberra executives should never have threatened any type of retaliation. Kidman, as a union representative, only looked to the best interests of the workforce if the Blue Whale-Aquis deal went through.

Supporting the complaint, the court in 2020 determined that the casino violated the ACT Discrimination Act. The company showed “unfavorable” treatment to Kidman and his employment status due to his activity in the gaming industry. As a result, he had to make some adjustments and pay a fine.

Additionally, Kidman felt the response was a sign that he would never receive any type of promotion or pay raise. This was despite his long tenure with the company. The casino’s intervention could also be an attempt to send a message to all other employees.

Casino Canberra were unhappy with the results and decided to appeal. He took his case to an ACT appeals court, but the outcome was the same. The court determined that the casino was wrong and the plaintiffs were right.

It is the principle of matter

The appeals court upheld everything the previous judges had determined. He stated that “due to [Kidman’s] industrial activity, Casino Canberra unlawfully discriminated against him. The casino’s response also reflected an “imbalance of power” that struck at the union’s position as the representative of Casino Canberra employees.

The casino was obviously only trying to prove a point by appealing the original decision. The court fined him four offenses and ordered him to pay a fine. The amount of the fine is less than what the casino earns in a few hours on average.

What Casino Canberra spent trying to defend itself was undoubtedly more than if it had just paid and moved on. The court had only imposed a fine of 8,620 Australian dollars (6,352 US dollars) on the casino. A$4,000 (US$2,946) was for damages and the rest for legal costs.