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Cleaner ‘called a dirty f*g by bullying colleagues’. He was fired after complaining to his boss

Emma Powys Maurice April 27, 2021
gay cleaner homophobic bullying

A gay cleaner says he lost his job because of homophobic harassment (Envato)

A gay man says he was sacked from his cleaning job because he reported homophobic harassment and bullying from his co-workers.

James ‘Jimi’ Fuller, 29, was hired as a casual cleaner by Ipswich city council in Queensland, Australia last October.

Shortly after he started, a supervisor allegedly announced his sexuality to several colleagues – and the bullying began almost immediately, he claims.

Speaking to the Queensland Times, Fuller recalled one co-worker calling him a “dirty f*g”. He claims others actually refused to work with him because he was gay.

In a text message group chat one of his team allegedly announced: “Let’s get Jimi the sack”.

Fuller filed a bullying complaint with his employer, along with another co-worker who overheard the gay slur, but was told in a letter on 23 March that his claims were “unsubstantiated”. He says he was also asked to withdraw his complaint.

“They did a code of conduct training and bullying and harassment training after I put that complaint in,” he said. “I just want what’s right and that’s to come and do my job and not be bullied. I was victimised and had things thrown at me.”

Weeks later his bosses reprimanded him for a muddy footprint and finger marks on a glass door at the Ipswich Art Gallery hours after he’d cleaned it.

Fuller denies his work was substandard and says Ipswich city council provided no evidence of this, but it was enough to justify his firing on 9 April.

“I do my job to the highest standard,” he said. “I’ve got about 20 [references] from all the buildings that I cleaned which stated what a great cleaner I am.

“I said, you’re dismissing me over a fingerprint that was on a glass door … three-and-a-half hours after the building opened to the public.”

Days after being fired he received a letter from a council officer, stating that they had investigated and reviewed his bullying complaint and the “performance concerns” around his work.

“I can confirm that it is the view of council that the complaint you raised whilst employed was investigated thoroughly, and the termination of your casual employment was managed appropriately and in accordance with council practices for these matters,” the letter read.

Fuller strongly disagrees and has now filed an unfair dismissal case with the Fair Work Commission, which accepted the case last week. He says all he wants is to get his job back.

“While council always seeks to be transparent, this is an ongoing legal matter,” an Ipswich City Council spokesperson said. “It would not be appropriate for council to make comment at this stage.”

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