A Victoria-based man has alleged he was subjected to discrimination and harassment at his workplace for being gay, before being fired from his job.
Timothy Bye has made a legal complaint against his former workplace, Barkers Fresh Produce, through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), and is trying to find a lawyer to take on his case.
He has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with his expenses while he is unable to work due to trauma.
Bye said he previously liked his workplace, but the environment changed when the manager in question joined the team.
“It turned into a horrible place to be,” said Bye.
“It started off with him coming into the office every morning and saying ‘Good morning, ladies’, and then he would greet all of the other men in the office by name.
“Once I overheard him talking to someone about all his disgusting views about homosexuals.
“That’s when I completely retreated as a person. I wasn’t as bubbly.
“There was nothing left of me, and I would have to put on a smile and be a nice person in the workplace, after the company failed to protect me and keep me safe from someone like him.
“It turned into a living hell for me because naturally I’m a very happy, bubbly person. To be put into a space where all that was completely taken away from me—I was dehumanised and made to feel like there was someone in the office who would rather have me in a coffin than sitting at my desk.”
Bye eventually took three weeks off work to take a break from the homophobic environment.
On his return, he said he found he had been replaced in his role, and he was soon fired for being “too social”.
A spokesperson at VCAT has confirmed that Bye filed the complaint in October last year, and said the three-day hearing is scheduled for May. The application was made under section 122 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
Bye said he is now being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and currently unable to work.
“Now I am deep into therapy and seeing my doctor to try and move on with my life. I’m in serious financial debt and not being able to work due to the PTSD I am going through,” said Bye.
He wants workplace discrimination and its mental health impact to be taken more seriously, and treated on par with physical injuries incurred at work.
“The company acknowledges this happened but are taking no responsibility with what they have caused,” said Bye.
“I am trying change how these matters are dealt with in Australia.”