The Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week upheld a complaint against a former bartender who racially discriminated against an Aboriginal man at a hotel in Alice Springs in August 2017.
The Tribunal found the former Gap View Hotel employee Angel Batt unlawfully discriminated against Rex Sultan when she wrongly claimed that he “smelt” and was “unhygienic” and subsequently refused service to him.
In a complaint lodged with the Anti-Discrimination Commission after the 2017 incident, Mr Sultan said he and his wife, Trephina, were dressed neatly and freshly showered when they arrived at the hotel
Batt’s claim that Mr Sultan, rather than another customer, smelt bad was “more than just a ‘mistake’ on her part” said Tribunal president Richard Bruxner.
“It was a product of an assumption by her that he was most likely the source of the smell,” he said. "(It) was an assumption Ms Batt made because Mr Sultan is Aboriginal.”
"Ms Batt refused to supply goods, services or facilities to Mr Sultan and treated Mr Sultan less favourably … because she believed he had a characteristic, namely poor hygiene or bad body odour, she associated with Aboriginal people."
Batt, who no longer works for the hotel, did not attend the hearing, but sent an email alleging staff and management had previously encouraged her to refuse service to Aboriginal peoples.
However, Mr Bruxner said he would not take her allegations into account due to her failure to attend the Tribunal.
The maximum penalty for ignoring a summons to attend is a fine of $15,400 or six months in jail.
The case will return to the tribunal on August 30.