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Antoinette Lattouf escalates legal battle against ABC with new federal court claim

<span>Antoinette Lattouf leaves a Fair Work Commission hearing. The journalist and broadcaster is now suing the ABC in the federal court over her dismissal. </span><span>Photograph: Toby Zerna/AAP</span>
Antoinette Lattouf leaves a Fair Work Commission hearing. The journalist and broadcaster is now suing the ABC in the federal court over her dismissal. Photograph: Toby Zerna/AAP

The journalist Antoinette Lattouf has escalated her fight against the ABC to the federal court, suing the public broadcaster for allegedly breaching its employee enterprise agreement by “sacking her without a proper basis and without due process”.

Lattouf has already lodged an unlawful termination application with the Fair Work Commission claiming she was sacked from a casual presenting role on Sydney’s Mornings radio program over her political views and her race.

The broadcaster was three days into a five-day radio hosting contract with ABC Sydney when she said she was told not to return for the final two shifts. The ABC has said she “failed or refused to comply with directions that she not post on social media about matters of controversy during the short period she was presenting”.

Lattouf had shared a post from Human Rights Watch alleging Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza. The ABC had reported on the Human Rights Watch claim.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said in a statement on Monday that Lattouf was suing the ABC for breaching its employee enterprise agreement by “sacking her without a proper basis and without due process”.

Lattouf is seeking “reinstatement, compensation, pecuniary penalties against the ABC and orders that ABC management undergo training to ensure they comply with their EA obligations”, the statement said.

Related: ABC says Antoinette Lattouf’s lawyers’ request for documents ‘legally incoherent’

The statement of claim lodged with the federal court last week said the ABC had breached the enterprise agreement by terminating her employment for misconduct when she had not engaged in misconduct and “had complied with guidance provided to her by management”.

It accused the ABC of failing to advise Lattouf in writing of the nature of her alleged misconduct and said the broadcaster did not give her an opportunity to respond to or explain her actions.

The ABC has argued that because Lattouf was a casual employee she was not sacked, and that she was paid for the full five days.

The Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal lawyer Josh Bornstein said Lattouf’s case alleged that the ABC panicked when it dismissed Lattouf and did not comply with its own disciplinary regime.

“Antoinette Lattouf is the first Australian journalist to be sacked for communicating a fact; the very same fact that the ABC was reporting on,” he said.

“The ABC’s conduct was a textbook example of what can go wrong when an organisation applies brand management techniques instead of being guided by principle, proper process and legal obligations.”

The ABC declined to comment.