John Caldwell, former host of KIIS FM’s Celeb HQ, is alleging years of bullying and discrimination against the radio station and its parent company ARN.
Caldwell has lodged proceedings with the Fair Work Commission following his dismissal from the network last month, Mumbrella reported.
In a statement, Caldwell alleged that the incident involved aggressive homophobic abuse from a fellow ARN employee including words and phrases like “poofter, “fucking faggot”, “you’re a homo” and “I’m not a fucking faggot”.
“Later the same evening, the aggressive verbal attack was continued by the fellow employee,” the statement said.
“Prior to his sacking, and shortly after the ACRAs, Mr Caldwell made a complaint about the homophobic verbal attack he had been subjected to.”
Caldwell alleges that he was subject to years of bullying at ARN, which led to his feeling suicidal, and that despite lodging numerous complaints to the company no meaningful action was ever taken.
“A senior executive regularly used words to him to the effect of ‘we just don’t upset the KJ [Kyle & Jackie] machine,” Caldwell’s statement continued.
“If you’ve got a problem, we can find a workaround, but we never upset the KJ machine’.”
Caldwell is the chair of Midsumma Festival, and has been a prominent anti-bullying and anti-family violence advocate, talking openly about his difficult childhood growing up with alcoholic parents, and finding himself broke and homeless at 15 years old.
He was named a finalist for the 2014 Australian of the Year for his advocacy, including as ambassador for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and a spokesperson for White Ribbon Day.
ARN released a statement in response, saying the company is “not aware of any proceedings commenced against KIIS FM or ARN by John Caldwell, and will rigorously defend any claims if they commence”.
“John Caldwell’s contract was ended in October. Due to privacy reasons we don’t comment on individual contracts however John was given the reasons for his contract ending.
“ARN prides itself on its passionate work in the area of diversity and inclusion, particularly with LGBTQI initiatives and the broader community.”