It’s On: Scott McIntyre Sues SBS After Broadcaster Sacked Him For His ‘Political Opinions’

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SBS is facing legal action over its decision to fire sports reporter Scott McIntyre after the journalist tweeted a series of comments about Anzac day and Australian war atrocities.

Legal firm Maurice Blackburn today confirmed it has filed a discrimination claim on behalf of McIntyre with the Fair Work Commission under Section 351 of the Fair Work Act, which prevents employers taking adverse actions against an employee on a number of grounds, including for the expression of a political opinion.

“The case is not about whether Mr McIntyre’s opinions are correct or not. It will focus on whether the views expressed by Mr McIntyre constituted political opinion and whether SBS terminated his employment for expressing these views,” a statement issued by Maurice Blackburn said.

“It is alleged SBS took action without a proper investigation and consideration of all relevant issues. It will be contended that Mr McIntyre had an unblemished work record and if a proper process had been followed, he would still be employed in his chosen career.”

The firm also allege that SBS breached its own policies, including its Code of Conduct, and did not follow due process.

An SBS spokesperson said the network was unable to provide comment as “this is now a legal matter”.

[STORY CONTINUES AFTER TWEETS]

McIntyre’s sacking came after his tweets caught the attention of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who expressed disgust at the messages and contacted SBS about the incident. He denied asking SBS to sack McIntyre.

SBS subsequently issued a statement claiming McIntyre’s comments were “disrespectful” and had “caused his on-air position at SBS to become untenable”.

“Mr McIntyre’s actions have breached the SBS Code of Conduct and social media policy and as a result, SBS has taken decisive action to terminate Mr McIntyre’s position at SBS, with immediate effect,” it said.

Despite the controversy the tweets caused, some historians and public commentators have backed their accuracy.

Within a week of McIntyre’s dismissal, New Matilda revealed another long-serving SBS journalist was fired the day after she shared an article from her Facebook page that was critical of SBS, and which attracted immediate comment from her boss on her wall.

While refusing to comment at the time, the network has subsequently denied the two matters were linked.

The decision to dump McIntyre provoked journalists’ union the MEAA to express concern about the gagging of employee’s opinions with “heavy-handed” social media policies.

“These policies are becoming an industrial issue and MEAA has expressed these concerns before,” the union said.

“Increasingly, media employees are being required to use social media platforms to promote their work, and those accounts are then being used as a marketing tool benefitting media employers.

“The policies have begun to infringe on the private lives of media professionals, dictating what they can and can’t say in a private capacity, outside of their work.”

McIntyre has not made public comment since the incident.

Max Chalmers

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.

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