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Worker sacked over air-con battle

Images: Getty
Images: Getty

A Melbourne office worker accused of making ‘fat-shaming’ comments has lost her unfair dismissal case, with the judge describing her comments as “completely disrespectable”.

Market research interviewer Julia Bastoni lost her job after a workplace air-con stoush which culminated in her saying her supervisor couldn’t feel the cold due to her “natural extra padding”.

Bastoni’s comments came after her requests to have the heating turned on were denied by her supervisor who said she didn’t feel cold.

While a chilly office is undeniably annoying, the Fair Work Commission decided on Friday that Bastoni’s comments were unacceptable, and her employer’s decision to terminate her employment was justified.

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The market researcher had been given two earlier warnings by her employer, ORC International.

‘Completely disrespectable and unacceptable’

Bastoni argued the “scientific fact” that people with more body fat do not feel the cold as much as people with less fat and said her comments were not intended to be derogatory.

“The language about layers was euphemistic instead of demeaning,” Bastoni submitted.

She also argued it was “unfair” for her supervisor to be the only person allowed to control the air conditioner.

However the boss told the Commission Bastoni’s comments were humiliating, while the company’s lawyer described the comments as fat-shaming.

In his judgment, commission deputy president Richard Clancy said attempts to class Bastoni’s comments as justifiable “beggar belief”.

“Her reaction to this situation was … unjustified and unnecessary.

“There was no need to resort to insulting, cruel and demeaning comments when seeking to have the heating in the workplace turned on.”

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