A worker sacked for posting a picture of former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with a Hitler moustache has received compensation.
The NSW Industrial Relations Commission found the child protection worker was justifiably sacked.
However, it also found the dismissal harsh because the woman’s family was in a dire financial situation as a result of the pandemic.
Worker sacked for Hitler moustache photo
Vanessa Lichi previously worked for the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.
In July 2021, she attended a “Freedom” Rally in the city, in breach of public health orders at the time.
Lichi also posted several pictures which her managers described as “highly derogatory towards the decisions of the NSW government around the actions taken regarding the COVID-19”.
One of the images posted on her Facebook page showed then-Premier Berejiklian with a Hitler moustache.
The picture contained the words “IF IT FITS WEAR IT”.
Lichi posted another image with the words, “by the end of August the military will be knocking on your door if you haven’t had a jab or they will take your kids off you! Wake the fk up Australia!”
The Department subsequently terminated Lichi’s employment.
Hitler moustache photo meant no disrespect
The worker told the Commission she didn’t create the meme of Berejiklian.
She claimed that when she posted it she wasn’t referring to the NSW Premier specifically.
“The post was not meant in humour but as an expression of how I was feeling imprisoned at the time,” she said.
She also told the Commission statements made by her local MP Craig Kelly confused her about whether public health orders are lawful.
Finally, Lichi said her partner’s job had been affected by the pandemic and they were concerned about their ability to afford to raise their new baby.
RELATED ARTICLE Social media
Commissioner John Murphy found Lichi’s decision to attend the “Freedom” Rally, in addition to the social media posts, grounds for dismissal.
However, “at the time of, and immediately following, her dismissal, [Ms Lichi] and her family were facing dire financial circumstances, which would not generally have been the case in pre-pandemic times”.
Commissioner Murphy considered a number of factors. For example, the birth of Lichi’s daughter in mid-2020, the onset of post-natal depression, and the financial difficulties the family.
He therefore found the dismissal harsh, and ordered the government to pay her 12-weeks of wages.
Social media dangers
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan warned workers about the dangers of social media.
“Never post anything on any of your social media platforms about your employer, especially anything negative,” he said.
“Always assume your boss is monitoring your accounts – and what you post can cost you your job.”
Contact our team at Dismissals ‘R’ Us on
To connect with us, please follow us on