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BP worker sacked after Hitler meme wins payout

A BP refinery worker in Australia who was sacked for parodying the company via a well-known Hitler meme has been awarded a $200,000 (£109,000) payout.

Scott Tracey used the popular meme, from 2004 film Downfall, to portray scenes from company wage negotiations, posting it on a closed Facebook group.

He was sacked by the company. However, after a two-year legal battle, he won an unfair dismissal case and returned to work.

The payout covers lost earnings.

The meme uses a dramatic scene in Downfall – in which Hitler angrily confronts his generals in his bunker – and replaces the subtitles with alternative dialogue as a joke.

BP had said it was “highly offensive and inappropriate” and dismissed Mr Tracey. The refinery worker first took his case to a tribunal, arguing unfair dismissal, but lost.

Mr Tracey then appealed, insisting he had not intended to offend anyone and that the video was meant to be humorous. He added that it did not identify BP or anyone specifically.

The federal court ruled it was unreasonable to say the meme had likened BP managers to Nazis and Mr Tracey was allowed to return to work.

On Monday, he was awarded $177,325 in wages and lost bonuses, minus tax, and also $24,070 in superannuation or pension payments.

BP had argued that Mr Tracey should be paid $150,000, less than what he would have earned if he had not been dismissed.

The company wanted money to be deducted because the video was shared among colleagues, which BP said was misconduct, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

BP also said more money should be deducted as Mr Tracey could have found work during the trial.

The Fair Work Commission said there was no evidence to argue that Mr Tracey had not searched for employment.

Brad Gandy, secretary at Australian Workers Union, said that Mr Tracey had been through “unnecessary drama”.

“To dig in and drag an honest worker through nearly two years of stress and uncertainty, all because a few stuffed shirts didn’t get a joke, is poor corporate behaviour,” Mr Gandy told the Sydney Morning Herald.


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