On January 17, 2023, a former manager of Westpac lodged a formal complaint alleging age discrimination and overwork led to his unfair dismissal from the company. The 67-year-old risk and trust management specialist, who served the company remotely for four years before being let go in October last year, alleges that senior management’s negative attitude towards him was driven by his age and the ensuing complaints he raised about his excessive workload.
According to the manager, a senior executive persistently brought up his age during meetings, questioning his retirement plans. He noticed that after he began expressing concerns about his heavy workload in June, and suggested the senior manager help carry the load, their once warm professional rapport started to decline.
Documents filed at the Federal Circuit and Family Court describe the escalating tension, with the manager alleging the senior executive began openly criticizing his work, providing curt one-word responses to his input, and engaging in combative exchanges. The tension reportedly reached a point where the bank intervened, asking the manager to avoid responding to the senior executive’s comments in a bid to prevent the spiraling aggression and negativity.
Despite raising several complaints about what he saw as ongoing bullying, the manager contends that the hostile behaviour continued unabated. By October, the bank had issued him a formal request to address allegations that he had breached their code of conduct, technology use policy, and anti-discrimination, harassment, and bullying rules.
The manager’s dismissal followed after the bank found that he had allegedly made inappropriate and unwelcome sexual comments, such as “are you going teabagging?” towards the senior executive in a team meeting held on Microsoft Teams. He was also accused of making inappropriate remarks and posting GIFs suggesting that the senior executive was hungover, among other things.
The manager, however, insists that his comments have been taken out of context and misinterpreted. He further asserts that the swift dismissal was unwarranted, leading to a potential loss of $75,660—a sum he could have earned had he been provided a “reasonable” six-month notice period as stipulated in his contract.
He argues that his dismissal not only hampered his career prospects but also caused him humiliation, stress, and exacerbated his existing mental health conditions.
The manager is now seeking reinstatement, compensation, and penalties against Westpac. He alleges that his dismissal represents unlawful and discriminatory adverse action, fueled by his age and the complaints he made about his workload and alleged workplace bullying.
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