A gay cleaner sacked by Ipswich City Council claims he was fired because he reported alleged bullying and homophobic harassment by co-workers.
James ‘Jimi’ Fuller (pictured) started as a causal cleaner for the Queensland council last October. But the council told him he was “terminated effective immediately” on April 9.
Fuller was told in a meeting that he was no longer required. Just two weeks earlier he had put the bullying complaint to human resources.
The gay man claimed since starting the job, other staff members had harassed and bullied him. At one point a co-worker called him a “dirty f*g”, he said.
Shortly after starting the casual cleaner job, a supervisor allegedly announced his sexuality to several colleagues.
Fuller claimed some of the colleagues subsequently refused to work with him because he was gay. In a text message group chat, one announced “Let’s get Jimi the sack”, Fuller alleged.
After his complaint, Jimi was told in a March 23 letter his bullying claims were “unsubstantiated”. Fuller alleges he was also asked to withdraw his complaint.
He said bosses later reprimanded him for a muddy footprint and finger marks on a glass door at the Ipswich Art Gallery hours after he’d cleaned it in late March.
The 29-year-old claims the Ipswich City Council didn’t provide evidence but used it to justify his firing on April 9. Fuller denies his work was substandard.
“I do my job to the highest standard,” he told the Queensland Times.
“I’ve got about 20 [references] from all the buildings that I cleaned which stated what a great cleaner I am.
“I said, you’re dismissing me over a fingerprint that was on a glass door … three-and-a-half hours after the building opened to the public.”
Sacked gay cleaner’s complaint may go before a tribunal
James Fuller has now filed an unfair dismissal case with the Fair Work Commission. He said all he wants is his job back.
He said an Ipswich City Council co-worker who overheard the gay slur also put in a complaint about the bullying.
“They did a code of conduct training and bullying and harassment training after I put that complaint in,” he said.
“I just want what’s right and what’s to come and do my job and not be bullied. I was victimised and had things thrown at me.”
Fuller received a letter from a council officer on April 12. It stated the council had investigated and reviewed both his bullying complaint and the “performance concerns” around his work.
“I can confirm that it is the view of the council that the complaint you raised whilst employed was investigated thoroughly, and the termination of your casual employment was managed appropriately and in accordance with council practices for these matters,” the letter read.
The Fair Work Commission accepted Fuller’s case last week, and the council must respond to the complaint this week. The matter may then go before a tribunal.
“While council always seeks to be transparent, this is an ongoing legal matter,” an Ipswich City Council spokesperson said.
“It would not be appropriate for the council to make comment at this stage.”
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