Tribunal case studies

Race in goods, services and facilities

Mallard v City of Fremantle [2018] WASAT 44

Murray Mallard, an Aboriginal man, alleged that the City of Fremantle (the City) discriminated against him on the ground of his race, in the provision of goods, services, and facilities.

Mr Mallard claimed that an employee at the City library suspected him of trying to steal DVDs while he was browsing through the collection because he was an Aboriginal person and refused to serve him. Mr Mallard alleged that he overhead the employee saying “what’s he doing, probably trying to steal” on several occasions, although there was no independent evidence of this.

When Mr Mallard complained to the City about his treatment, he received a response stating that security arrangements to prevent thefts of DVDs had been recently updated and were not directed at individual customers.

The library’s manager of service and information met with Mr Mallard and told him that although there was no evidence that the employee had discriminated against him, she would arrange it so that the employee would be moved from the customer service area if he came in again.

The employee claimed that she could not recall any interaction with Mr Mallard, or making any comments in his presence, or refusing to serve him.  The Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity dismissed Mr Mallard’s complaint as lacking in substance.  Mr Mallard requested that the Acting Commissioner refer his complaint to the State Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) for determination.

After hearing evidence, the Tribunal held that although Mr Mallard presented as sincere in his evidence, and was hampered by not being legally represented, he was not able to show on balance of probabilities that he had been discriminated against and dismissed his complaint.

Race in Education

Dawar v Curtin University of Technology [2017] WASAT 140

Ghufranullah Dawar, an ethnic Pashtun from Pakistan, lodged two separate complaints with the Commission, alleging that Curtin University (Curtin) rejected his application to study for a Bachelor of Applied Medical Science in January 2017, and his application to study for a Bachelor of Science (Human Biology) lodged in May 2017, both on the ground of his race.

In response, Curtin stated that Mr Dawar had provided false academic transcripts from Kandahar University in Afghanistan.  Mr Dawar alleged that when Curtin sought verification of his academic transcripts from Kandahar, it was under the control of the Taliban. He said that Curtin deliberately sent information to the Taliban instead of the proper persons at Kandahar because it had singled him out because of his race.

The Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity dismissed the complaint as lacking in substance, rejecting Mr Dawar’s explanation that Curtin was in contact with the Taliban, and accepting that the academic transcripts appeared to be falsified.  Mr Dawar requested the Commissioner to refer his complaint to the Tribunal for a determination.  Three months later he lodged his second complaint with the Commission, again on the ground of race.

Curtin responded by stating that Mr Dawar’s second application had not been rejected, only put on hold while his first complaint was being determined by the Tribunal. The Commissioner dismissed this complaint as lacking in substance.  Mr Dawar requested the Commissioner to refer the complaint to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal heard the complaints together, and dismissed them as lacking in substance, essentially for the same reasons as the Commissioner.