Jason Dowling sacked for slurs on Facebook

Man sacked for slurs on Facebook
Anne Lin
February 9, 2011

A Gold Coast man has lost his job after his employer confronted him about derogatory comments he published on Facebook.

Jason Dowling, who worked on the Hinze Dam Project managed by Thiess Pty Ltd, has been stood down after admitting to posting offensive remarks following a tip-off by a member of the public.

A 25-year-old law student from Lismore who only wanted to be identified as Caroline told ninemsn she emailed Thiess on January 30 with a link to Mr Dowling’s Facebook page.

Four days later she received a response from Thiess group HR manager Mark Vining saying Mr Dowling’s employment at the company had been terminated following an investigation.

In addition, a second unidentified employee was also fired and a third tendered his resignation.

“Those comments are in no way supported by our business practices, are in breach of various Company and Project policies, and certainly not encouraged or endorsed by the management of Thiess,” Mr Vining wrote in that letter.

“Thiess has a long and proud history of promoting diversity and equality in our workforce, and have many programmes in place to support these objectives.”

Caroline told ninemsn she first saw screen shots of Mr Dowling’s comments posted on the website PWSNT.com and “out of curiosity” looked him up on Facebook…

Jason’s comments were admittedly pretty bad–Muhammad Ali is “just another loud mouth nigger”; an Aborigine with a stutter is a “cocoon”; Dreamworld is sadly “full of gooks n Muslims”; blah blah blah–but not all that unusual. There are mountains of hateful idiocy on Facebook, which The Antibogan blog regularly documents.

See also : Richard Wolstencroft ~versus~ Richard Wolstencroft (January 23, 2011) | F— Off We’re Facebook (January 25, 2010) | F*** Off, We’re Full (Of Terrie-Annes) (July 2, 2009) | Nicole Hanley : For Blood & Honour (April 6, 2009).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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12 Responses to Jason Dowling sacked for slurs on Facebook

  1. Ben Courtice says:

    When you see the comments it’s pretty much impossible to sympathise with the guy. Even if he was just trying to be provocative to his friends. But that’s the problem. Everyone says dumb things from time to time, having a drink at the pub or whatever. Facebook is about on that level, it’s just a bit more provable. What if I made some really inflammatory comments on FB, eg some variation of Diderot’s saying about the last aristocrat being hung by the intestines of the last priest, and some employer took great offence and fired me for it? This kind of thing is dangerous to everyone not just racists.

  2. @ndy says:

    Yeah… dunno. Maybe he could get a gig opening for Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson or something? Apart from that, there’s a few issues.

    I dunno what his intentions were precisely: probably, having a laugh w his mates (as you say–and he does too, apparently). I think that the pub analogy is a bit mistaken tho’. Depending on the context, even if yr really loud, most such chatter is b/w a relatively small grp of people (mates, presumably); a Facebook wall, otoh, can be read by thousands (and in this case was). Leaving aside the possibility of drunken violence–which Justin is at least, courtesy of his kickboxing skills, prolly better placed to handle than most–it’s arguable whether or not a public house is a place of publication (and thus subject to various laws inre racial and/or religious vilification). And even if, legally speaking, it was considered a public act, recent court decisions would suggest that Jason’s rhetoric would not necessarily be considered ‘racist’ (see Flubba Bubba Wubba Jubba Noongar NOT RACIST. And That’s Official!, July 14, 2010; Who would Jesus call a c***?, October 7, 2010).

    With regards Thiess, they claim that Jason’s actions “are in breach of various Company and Project policies”; precisely what these policies are, how Jason is alleged to have breached them, and the appropriateness of the penalties attached to them is another matter. In general, employers’ capacity to monitor or restrict employees’ use of the intarwebs is an evolving subject, one which raises a host of issues, especially given the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook. Finally, one distinction which is often made in such circumstances is that between public advocacy–political communication–and vilification, two (arguably) distinct concepts with different legal and political implications for restriction or punishment. In the context of Jason’s remarks, it would be difficult (but not impossible) to mount a defence based upon his (presumed) right to engage in such discourse without penalty from his employer.

  3. Sharky says:

    Funny how in his profile pic he’s wearing ceremonial Muay Thai gear (Thai kickboxing).

    Thinking may cause headaches & cut into your drinking time- beware !

  4. Ben Courtice says:

    The issues here which are pertinent are:

    1. Does an employer have a right to punish you for what you do on the interwebs outside of work, provided it’s not criminal or implicating your work? If the guy posted the offensive material while at work, on a work computer, it would be a different matter. If he posts all that crap and also lists who his employer is on his profile, then they would also have understandable cause for taking action. But as much as I hate this sort of racist chest-beating I do wonder about precedent and who else could get done for less anti-social perhaps more political comment. Mind you he is jokingly, at the very least least, referring to killing people based on their ethnicity which is pretty well off the scale so I think I get what would have gone through the employer’s mind. Who would want to have that kind of yobbo working for them?

    2. You are right, FB profiles are a form of publication like a blog, especially if you are stupid enough to have the privacy settings so that anyone can read them at will. I liked a comment I read somewhere, along the lines of “I’d sack anyone stupid enough to leave their FB page public!” This guy obviously should have thought about that. But a lot of people don’t, it’s a common sort of foot-in-mouth accident that the internet has provided so many means for us to achieve (OMG, did I really hit “reply to ALL?” etc etc). If he sued for unfair dismissal the casual-comment-in-the-pub analogy would perhaps be a viable line of defence, regardless of his intention. Back to my comment about precedent…

  5. Ben Courtice says:

    OK i just re-read the original article in full at ninemsn, apparently he did mention his workplace in his rather public outpourings of filth. No backing out of that one then.

  6. @ndy says:

    @Sharky: It’s not that unusual for White racists to practice The Noble (Asian) Art of Self Defence.

    @Ben Courtice: If Dowling believes he’s been unfairly discriminated against, I guess it’s possible for him to take legal action against Thiess. And I dunno if he posted racist shite while @ work or @ home; it’s interesting to note that two others have left the co. along with Dowling…

  7. Lumpen says:

    Jason Dowling allegedly named, harassed or referred specifically to his workmates in a severely derogatory way, which is generally seen as sufficient grounds for being sacked.

    Suck shit, I say. Fingers crossed this is the start of a slow, downward spiral that ends up on Australian Story as a cautionary tale.

  8. Robert Streeting says:

    The silly bugger slagged his work and work mates, that’s why he got the flick. I am also wondering why other people’s names have been published without [their] permission. After all it was a private conversation and only a “friend” could of seen it and reported it. I am thinking that future lawsuits may evolve from [their] names being published (it may shut a few sites down). After all whatever happened to opinions and freedom of speech. It may not be right but people still have it.

  9. @ndy says:

    What is this I don’t even.

  10. Lumpen says:

    I am also wondering why other people’s names have been published without [their] permission. After all it was a private conversation and only a “friend” could of seen it and reported it.

    Huh? A Facebook page, given the correct settings, is a publicly accessible webpage – no ‘friend’ status necessary. Many people use a Facebook page to publicise their views and do this deliberately. Presumably Jason Dowling was using his page to make his views known to the world at large and this is why he left all of his settings on public. I suspect it was only after, when he realised that there were consequences, that he tried to argue that it was ‘private’. This seems to be a theme amongst racists. And I don’t think you need permission to publish a name.

  11. Robert Streeting says:

    Yes but how often does facebook notify you that they have changed [their] Security settings? Never it[‘]s generally only through friends that let u know. Also it had to be a friend to have dobbed him in. Posted link[?]

  12. Lumpen says:

    Robert, you have access to your own privacy settings. These settings give you a choice about if your name comes up in a search, how much of your information is displayed and what posts appear where. This puts paid to the idea that one of Dowling’s friends had to have dobbed him in or something. Anyone can do a keyword search on Facebook to see who is using words like “nigger”.

    Even if you have maximum privacy settings, this is not the same as being private. It’s like having an invitation-only newsletter. If you have 250 subscribers, you can’t claim it’s a private conversation when someone else sees it.

    Why can’t people tell the difference between exclusive and private?

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