ACT Tribunal rejects Casino Canberra appeal in discrimination case

The court of appeal has upheld a ruling against Casino Canberra.
The court of appeal has upheld a ruling against Casino Canberra.

The casino operator was accused of discriminating against an employee who raised concerns about workers’ rights amid a potential ownership change.

Australia.- Casino Canberra has lost a bid to overturn an order to pay compensation to an employee for discriminating against him after he raised concerns over workers’ rights. In 2019, Bryan Bradford Kidman, an employee at Canberra casinos for nearly 20 years, had raised concerns about a possible change in casino ownership. 

At the time, he told The Canberra Times that staff at the casino had not received information about what would happen to staffing levels, working conditions and wages if Aquis Entertainment were acquired by Blue Whale Entertainment. He said casino employees should have been given details about how the acquisition could have affected their salaries and overall working conditions.

Kidman said the union had asked the company to provide written assurances that the pending deal would not result in layoffs, staff changes or outsourcing. However, no one offered any such assurances to United Voice Union members, and the casino operator said it preferred to start the negotiation process only after the sale was completed.

A few days after the interview was published, Casino Canberra and its in-house legal counsel contacted Kidman and shared about the standard of conduct required by the casino for employees. Union organisers lodged a formal complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission, which was forwarded to the ACT Civil and Administrative Court.

Kidman claimed that in writing to him the casino had committed discrimination. The court ruled in favour of Kidman in July 2020, finding that the casino violated part of the Discrimination Act. It ordered the casino to pay $8,620 – $4,000 in damages and the rest in attorney’s fees. The company complied with one order and appealed against another three.

The casino claimed that the proposed sale would not affect its existing legal or contractual obligations under the operating agreement, so its employees would not be affected. However, the casino’s appeal has now been dismissed, with the appeals court upholding the original ruling. The Australian Capital Territory Tribunal found that Kidman was engaged in legitimate union activities representing the interests of members.

Aquis terminated the proposed deal with Blue Whale in 2020.

Alex Chow retires as Aquis Entertainment non-executive director 

Aquis Entertainment, the operator of Casino Canberra, has reported through a company filing that Alex Chow will retire as non-executive director. According to the company, his decision comes as a result of continued Covid-19 lockdowns in his home country, Hong Kong, which have made it difficult for Chow to continue his desired level of involvement with the group.

Chow said: “with the recent appointment of Mark Purtill to the Board of Directors, I am confident that my areas of expertise are well covered within the group, and I can retire from the Board proud of what we have achieved over the past number of years in very difficult circumstances.

“I wish the company every success for the future, and I know that the continuing Directors are very competent to continue with the plans we have set and implemented over recent years.”

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