Scott Tracey was sacked by BP two years ago for sharing a Hitler meme mocking senior BP staff. The meme jokingly compared the tense enterprise bargaining battle between management and workers to the crumbling Nazi administration in its final days.
Mr Tracey, who was sacked after he sent the video to a small group of people, was found to have been unfairly dismissed and had his job reinstated through the Fair Work Commission. However, BP challenged that decision and took the matter to the Federal Court.
After nearly two years of fighting to keep his job, Mr Tracey has won another battle against his employer, who today lost the Federal Court appeal for a judicial review of the decision.
Daniel Walton, the Australian Workers’ Union National Secretary said it was a shame BP had dragged the matter out.
“Mr Tracey has had to endure nearly two years of stress and uncertainty about his livelihood, because a few stuffed shirts didn’t get a joke and chose to dig in even when it was pointed out to them,” Mr Walton said.
“The meme Scott Tracey used has been appropriated thousands upon thousands of times to poke fun at sport, culture, politics, and everything else.
“For BP to seriously allege Mr Tracey was actually comparing management to Nazis is embarrassing. But to drag this out has been pig-headed, mean spirited, and foolish.
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“BP converted a silly error into a blunder, and I’m extremely pleased to see the decision go Mr Tracey’s way today. BP owe him, and the whole workforce, a sincere apology.
“Australian workers have always been able to take the piss out of their bosses, with their colleagues, in their own time. For BP management spend so much time arguing otherwise reveals real arrogance.”
The video, put together by Mr Tracey and his wife, was seen by a group of eight people in a small chat group on social media, parodied senior management at BP.
BP’s managing director, Brett Swayn, and other senior staff took exception to the video, and Mr Tracey was sacked over the incident.
In September last year the Fair Work Commission’s Deputy President upheld the decision by BP, saying the meme was “objectively offensive”, and calling it a joke didn’t give Mr Tracey a “get out of jail free card”.
But Mr Tracey won an appeal of that decision, when a full bench of the Fair Work Commission came to a contrary view, saying “anyone with knowledge of the meme could not seriously consider that the use of the clip was to make some point involving Hitler or Nazis”.
At the time, the Australian Workers’ Union said workers should have the right to make fun of their bosses.
“For BP to allege this had anything to do with actually comparing management to Nazis was obtuse at best, but more likely disingenuous,” Daniel Walton, the AWU National Secretary earlier this year.
“Workers should be able to take the piss out of management with their colleagues in their own time. The day that right is lost would be a very bleak day for Australia.”