NZ worker wins compo for being called a ‘Kiwi’

A WORKER at a much-loved Adelaide bakery has won a court battle over compensation she was awarded for years of racial abuse, including being called "Kiwi" by her co-workers.

However the supervisor, who did not help the worker, said the nickname was just "banter'.

Return to Work SA awarded New Zealand expat Julie Savage compensation for a severe anxiety and stress caused by years of racial abuse by co-workers as well as being screamed at by her supervisor at Vili's Cakes.

Vili's appealed the decision to award Ms Savage weekly payments and medical expenses following the stress and bullying of working in the companies production kitchen.


The New Zealand Kiwi bird. Picture: Supplied
The New Zealand Kiwi bird. Picture: Supplied

The Tribunal heard that Ms Savage's supervisor had failed to provide support during incidents of "racial abuse" by other workers.

Ms Savage migrated from New Zealand with her husband and son in 2006 and got a job at Vili's Bakery in July 2007.

She worked in the companies production kitchen as a supervisor, often starting her day at 5am.

The Tribunal heard that her supervisor was demeaning to her, questioned her decision making and constantly phoned her about work issued after her shift had finished.

The interactions left her feeling humiliated and burnt out.

Ms Savage told the hearing that the supervisor had prevented her from attending the funeral of a colleague's family member, but had attended herself.

The stress came to a head on May 23, 2016 when she was expected to train a new employee who had no previous experience in the production kitchen.

The 17-year-old looked scared in the job and had never used a kitchen knife before.

Convinced her supervisor would find something wrong with the training, Ms Savage froze.

Her husband took her home and she was later diagnosed with severe anxiety and work related stress.
The supervisor was called to give evidence before the Tribunal and said that the interaction with Ms Savage had been "banter".

When she was asked about the allegations of yelling and screaming she said she could not "think of a time when anything like this would happen".

Tribunal Deputy President Michael Ardlie said he did not believe the supervisor was being "candid" and accepted Ms Savage's evidence that she had been screamed at by her boss.

Mr Ardlie dismissed the appeal, continuing Ms Savage's compensation.

Ms Savage had previously failed to prove that being called Kiwi was racial discrimination.

In 2018 she made a complaint to the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity that she had been discriminated against.

However, the Employment Tribunal, which took up the case, said she had not experienced any unfair treatment, segregation or lack of employment progression because of her heritage.

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