Monday, 17 January 2022

Cricket Australia worker fired over abortion tweets

TASMANIA: Earlier this month, Cricket Australia was praised for being a female-friendly workplace.

But today the organisation is under fire after it was revealed it had sacked a female employee for posting a series of tweets pushing for abortion reform in Tasmania.

In January, it was announced that Tasmania’s only abortion clinic had closed, meaning Tasmanian women seeking a termination were now forced to travel to the mainland to have the procedure.

And in February, Cricket Australia’s former manager of public policy and government relations Angela Williamson became one of them.

The 39-year-old was so distressed by her experience she took to Twitter to advocate for change.

In one tweet in June, she described the government’s rejection of a motion to re-establish abortion services in the state through public hospitals as “most irresponsible … gutless and reckless”.

According to Fairfax media reports, the mother of three was stood down by Cricket Australia months later, after the organisation claimed her social media posts had “insulted” the Tasmanian government and made her position as a government relations manager “untenable”.

But she told Fairfax reporters she refused to be silenced.

“For speaking up, I lost my job with Cricket Australia,” she said.

“I was told the tweet had damaged my relationship with government.

“I was in shock trying to understand the situation I’d found myself in, and how publicly expressing my political opinion in a tweet had led to this situation at work.

“I should not have had to lose my job to deliver the change. Abortion is legal in Tasmania. But that system is broken and it made me feel ashamed.”

On June 7, just a few days before she lost her job, MS Williamson met with a “senior member of government” to push for abortion services to return to Tasmania.

The meeting had nothing to do with her role at Cricket Australia, and Ms Williamson described her own abortion experience with the individual on the condition of anonymity.

But nine days after that meeting, Cricket Australia warned Ms Williamson about her tweets and arranged to have a meeting with her on July 19.

After learning of her employer’s concerns, Ms Williamson contacted the government staffer and apologised for any offence caused, and offered to delete her tweets.

That person allegedly claimed they had not spoken with Cricket Australia about her tweets.

However, Ms Williamson’s was fired after Cricket Tasmania “withdrew its support” from her, with Cricket Australia ruling her “continued employment with Cricket Australia is untenable”.

Ms Williamson is now preparing to fight her former employer after hiring employment law firm Maurice Blackburn to represent her.

According to Kamal Faroque, a member of Ms Williamson’s legal team, “political opinion is a protected attribute under the Fair Work Act, but in this instance an employer is seeking to constrain that opinion, with a person losing their job as a result.”

There has been an outpouring of support for Ms Williamson among the public since the story broke, with many social media users describing Cricket Australia’s actions as “outrageous”, “awful” and “disgraceful”.

Cricket Australia was approached for comment for this story but a response was not received.

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