Freelance journalist Antoinette Lattouf to pursue ABC in Federal Court after Fair Work decision

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Antoinette Lattouf (centre) was dismissed after sharing a Human Rights Watch post on Instagram. (Toby Zerna/AAP PHOTOS)
Antoinette Lattouf (centre) was dismissed after sharing a Human Rights Watch post on Instagram. (Toby Zerna/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Freelance journalist Antoinette Lattouf has attacked the national broadcaster’s challenge to her dismissal case as a “waste of taxpayers’ money” after the industrial relations tribunal found she had been sacked.

The Fair Work Commission on Monday threw out a jurisdictional challenge brought by the ABC that disputed the employment of Lattouf, a casual contracted to fill in as a radio host for five-days in December last year, could be terminated.

The decision paves the way for Lattouf to pursue her case in the Federal Court, with lawyers for the freelancer saying they would add a claim of unlawful termination to her existing case.

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Following the decision Lattouf said she remained “bitterly disappointed” she had been fired by the ABC over a social media post on a report concerning starvation in the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

“I believe the ABC’s challenge was a waste of taxpayers’ money, causing unnecessary delays in my pursuit of truth and justice,” she said.

“I remain bitterly disappointed that I was fired for posting a fact the ABC itself was also reporting, namely a report of Human Rights Watch about starvation used as a tool of war.

“I remain committed to achieving a just outcome in this matter, for me and a free and fair press.”

Lattouf was sacked midway through a five-day contract and is claiming she was unlawfully terminated after sharing a post by the non-government organisation Human Rights Watch that accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.

At the time of the social media post, the ABC was reporting on the same HRW report.

Lattouf has claimed she was summoned to a meeting with ABC senior management and fired over the post and was later informed the decision had been made by managing director David Anderson.

Reports then emerged that a group of Jewish advocates had complained about Lattouf’s social media post to senior ABC executives, including Mr Anderson and chairwoman Ita Buttrose.

On Monday Lattouf’s lawyer Josh Bornstein from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said the FWC decision meant Lattouf’s unlawful termination claim could proceed to the Federal Court.

“We will add the claim of unlawful termination to the claim currently before the Federal Court that alleges that the ABC also violated its enterprise agreement by sacking Antoinette Lattouf without due process and without a proper basis,” he said.

“If the court is satisfied that the ABC acted illegally it has broad powers to make orders including reinstatement and compensation together with the ability to impose penalties.

Lattouf has worked on and off at ABC since 2009 and is alleging the national broadcaster breached its own enterprise agreement by terminating her employment without due process over her race and political opinion.

Journalists Union Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said the FWC decision was “an important outcome for the right of journalists to do their jobs”.

The Nightly approached the ABC for comment.

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