Oz funeral company dragged to court over racial discrimination claim

October 28th, 2010 - 4:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Oct. 28 (ANI): The biggest player in the Australian funeral industry has been accused of racial discrimination over a secret business strategy targeting the lucrative Asian-Australian market.

InvoCare Australia, which owns over 20 funeral service chains, including White Lady, Guardian and Simplicity Funerals, faces a claim in the Federal Magistrates Court from a client manager, Theresa Le.

Le, who is of Vietnamese background, says InvoCare instructed her not to employ Asian staff in the company’s cemetery and crematoriums arm because this might hinder the work of its special ‘multicultural unit’.

Court documents show InvoCare employs a special team of consultants, the multicultural unit, to ‘market to certain cultural communities’.

The company says the unit was established 15 years ago and exists only to service families from non-English speaking backgrounds where a relationship already exists.

But the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Le, as saying that InvoCare had a special deal with the unit that gave it virtually exclusive access to Asian clients and potential clients.

She said the arrangement included an instruction to general staff to stay away from these clients in some circumstances and an unofficial directive to avoid hiring Asian staff because they might impinge on the unit’s territory.

In her application, Le said the company advised her not to attend social and cultural events within the Asian community.

When she complained about the company’s practices and refused its attempts to move her to the multicultural unit - downgrading her from manager to consultant - Le said senior managers made life difficult for her to force her to leave.

InvoCare strenuously denied Ms Le’s claims, in terms of its business strategies and behaviour towards her.

‘We strongly believe that we have no case to answer as our business strategies, practices and how we have dealt with Ms Le are entirely appropriate,’ said the communications manager, Karl Wolfenden. (ANI)

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