Melbourne estate agent admits sacking worker for being “too young” and “too short”

A Melbourne real estate agent discriminated against a female employee when it dismissed her because of her “overall young look”, the Fair Work Ombudsman has found.

Real estate agency Buxton Sandringham has agreed to pay the woman $1200 compensation and to revamp its workplace policies.

The woman was employed as a personal assistant on a casual basis in June, 2010 – when she was 23 – but dismissed a month later, shortly after she had assisted at an auction by recording bids.

One of Buxton’s male sales consultants told her that some of the company’s directors who had seen her at the auction were concerned she looked “too young”, was “too short” and would not have the presence to effectively negotiate at auctions.

He said he “needed someone he could turn into a sales person and that this was not possible for her because of her overall young look.”

The consultant terminated her employment, saying: “The reason I have done this now is because the training I would need to do would be a waste of time if I then have this concern six months later”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matter after the woman lodged an official complaint and said Buxton had to apologise to the woman and pay her $1200 compensation.

Buxton has also agreed to develop new recruitment and termination policies, commission workplace relations compliance training for its directors and alert other Buxton Group franchisees to its breach.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says it is important for employers to treat their employees fairly and be aware of their obligations under workplace laws.

 “Employers who have fair and transparent selection processes for recruitment, promotion, training and other business systems will be well-placed to cultivate fair workplaces free of discrimination,” says Wilson.

Buxton Sandringham were unable to respond to our request for comment in time for publication.

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