An employee of a Queensland tour operator has launched action against his employer for racial vilification following a racist “joke”, while a separate business with a similar name has also been caught up in the resulting PR storm.
A sunscreen spray bottle covered in yellow tape with the handwritten message “black guy repllent [sic]” (pictured) was reportedly handed to the man by colleagues at his work at Rainbow Beach Adventure Company when he asked for some sunscreen.
The man was identified as McDuff Tupetagi who, according to Fairfax Media, is taking action in Queensland’s Industrial Relations Commission on the grounds of racial vilification that forced him onto stress leave and affected his mental health.
Reports suggested the company reportedly responded by claiming the incident was simply a “practical joke”.
However, the owner of the Rainbow Beach Adventure Company, Website Travel Group, issued a statement in which it described the actions of its employee towards Mr Tupetagi as “abhorrent and totally unacceptable”.
“We find the actions of the employee concerned to be abhorrent and totally unacceptable, the employee has apologised for his offensive behaviour. His conduct in this matter in no way reflects the culture or beliefs of our company, managers and staff,” Wesbite Travel Group general manager Barry Downes said.
“We promptly addressed the matter with the employee and he deeply regrets his actions. While it’s disappointing that the damage has been done to what was previously a close and long-standing friendship between these two employees, the matter will be before the Commission in the comings weeks and it would be inappropriate to make further comment.”
The story has since made headlines around the world, with people on social media hitting out at anyone who consider such actions to be a amusing.
“You know, some people may find this funny and others don’t. But at the end of the day it’s racism. Pure and simple. This guy didn’t find it funny and for that simple reason, it should have been stopped immediately. Good on him for standing up for himself,” a Facebook user said in response to the story on 1NewsNZ.
Meanwhile, Mr Tupetagi is not the only victim of the scandal, with another small business using a similar name – Rainbow Beach Adventure Centre – forced to clarify that it has no connection to the incident.
“There is a media release surrounding the treatment of an employee by Rainbow Beach Adventure Company. This is not us, we are Rainbow Beach Adventure Centre,” the company said in a statement on its website.
“We are a small family-run business with no employees and are equally horrified by the Rainbow Beach Adventure Company’s treatment of their employee.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.