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BP Worker Wins Federal Court Case After Being Sacked Over Hitler Meme

BP Worker Wins Federal Court Case After Being Sacked Over Hitler Meme

A man in Australia has won a federal court case against his employer BP after being fired over his use of a Hitler meme.

Scott Tracey - who worked at a BP oil refinery near Perth - was fired in January 2019 after he used the popular meme from the 2004 film Downfall in a closed Facebook group, to mock scenes from company wage negotiations.

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BP argued the use of the meme was offensive. Credit: Constantin Film
BP argued the use of the meme was offensive. Credit: Constantin Film

Mr Tracey lost his initial unfair dismissal case, with his employers arguing he had 'distributed material which is highly offensive and inappropriate'. However, he won his job back following an appeal in February of this year, with the Fair Work Commission ruling that the meme was clearly satirical and it was unreasonable to deduce that its use likened BP managers to the Nazis.

The commission wrote in its decision: "Anyone with knowledge of the meme could not seriously consider that the use of the clip was to make some point involving Hitler or Nazis.

"Rather, the video, for satirical purposes, compared the position BP had reached in the enterprise bargaining process to the situation confronting Hitler and the Nazi regime in April 1945."

And today (Friday), the Federal Court dismissed BP's challenge to the decision, ruling that an interpretation of the meme as drawing a comparison with the Nazis was 'outside the boundaries of legal reasonableness'.

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Australian Workers Union secretary Daniel Walton, who represented Mr Tracey, said BP should apologise for dragging out the dispute.

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According to The Age, he said: "For BP to seriously allege Mr Tracey was actually comparing management to Nazis is embarrassing, but to drag this out has been pigheaded, mean spirited, and foolish.

"Australian workers have always been able to take the p**s out of their bosses, with their colleagues, in their own time. For BP management to spend so much time arguing otherwise reveals real arrogance."

BP is now reviewing the decision.

BP has been urged to apologise to Mr Tracey. Credit: PA
BP has been urged to apologise to Mr Tracey. Credit: PA

A spokesperson told LADbible: "We are reviewing the decision and considering next steps.

"We remain committed to upholding our values and behaviours consistently across our company, including at offices, refineries, and retail sites."

The meme that sparked these lengthy legal proceedings was taken from the climactic scene of the film, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) learns that Germany's defeat is imminent and furiously lashes out at the generals in in his bunker.

That in itself may not sound like the best comic material, but by altering the subtitles to suit a subject of your choosing, the scene has been a hugely popular meme since 2006.

Indeed, this popularity was cited by the Fair Work Commission in siding with Mr Tracey back in February.

It said: "That the clip has been used thousands of times over a period of more than a decade for the purpose of creating, in an entirely imitative way, a satirical depiction of contemporary situations has had the result of culturally dissociating it from the import of the historical events portrayed in the film."

Featured Image Credit: Constantin Film

Topics: World News, Interesting, Australia

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University, where he learnt a bit about media and a lot about living without heating. After spending a few years in Australia and New Zealand, Jake secured a role at an obscure radio station in Norwich, inadvertently becoming a real-life Alan Partridge in the process. From there, Jake became a reporter at the Eastern Daily Press. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.