Antoinette Lattouf’s unfair dismissal case against ABC heads to federal court after mediation fails

<span>Antoinette Lattouf has said it is ‘incredibly disheartening’ the mediation with ABC failed, meaning the case will now head to trial.</span><span>Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP</span>
Antoinette Lattouf has said it is ‘incredibly disheartening’ the mediation with ABC failed, meaning the case will now head to trial.Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

A dispute between the journalist Antoinette Lattouf and the ABC over her sacking from a casual radio role will be heard in the federal court after an hour-long mediation failed on Tuesday.

Lattouf is suing the public broadcaster for allegedly breaching its employee enterprise agreement by “sacking her without a proper basis and without due process”.

Lattouf was taken off air three days into a five-day casual contract in December after she posted on social media about the Israel-Gaza war, which the ABC said was a breach of editorial policy.

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”.

Related: Antoinette Lattouf was sacked by ABC, Fair Work Commission finds

Earlier this month the Fair Work Commission found the freelance broadcaster was sacked from a casual presenting role on ABC local radio, paving the way for her to pursue the unlawful termination case.

The commission rejected the ABC’s position that Lattouf’s employment was not actually terminated because she was paid for the full five days.

After the failed mediation Lattouf said she was disappointed by the outcome but vowed to continue to pursue the case through the court.

“Mediation was unsuccessful today, which is incredibly disheartening,” she said.

“The next step is a trial before the federal court of Australia. Despite how hard this has been on me and how unfair it is, let me be clear. I will not stop.

“I will not stop fighting for press freedom. I will not stop fighting for human rights. I won’t stop fighting for a brave and independent ABC, a public broadcaster that doesn’t bow to lobby groups. I am buoyed by and grateful for so much public support, support from the MEAA [Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance] and from my journalism peers.”

The ABC has denied Lattouf was sacked because of pressure from the pro-Israel lobby after media reports of a coordinated letter-writing campaign which targeted management.

Nine reported leaked messages from a WhatsApp group showed members wrote to the ABC demanding Lattouf be sacked, and threatened legal action if she was not.

“The ABC rejects any claim that it has been influenced by any external pressure, whether it be an advocacy or lobby group, a political party, or commercial entity,” the ABC managing director, David Anderson, said at the time.

On 3 June the commission found that Lattouf was terminated at a meeting on 20 December and told it was because “she had been told not to make social media posts for the whole of the five days she would be presenting on the show, but she did so anyway”.

The commission found Lattouf was asked to keep a low profile on social media and she agreed to avoid posting, except for “facts from reputable sources”.

Lattouf’s manager gave evidence that she considered Human Rights Watch to be a reputable organisation and had no problem with Lattouf sharing an Instagram post by them.

The commission found there was some confusion over whether her manager had advised her it would be best to make no social media posts at all for the rest of the week or she had been “directed” not to make any posts.

The judgment said the executive in charge of Lattouf’s employment, content director Chris Oliver-Taylor, sent a text to Anderson on 20 December saying he was going to take Lattouf off air for breaching editorial policy.

The ABC has been approached for comment.