Catherine Petzel claims she was fired from the US arm of Aussie company, Redflex Traffic Systems, on “unlawfully discriminatory grounds”, alleging it was because she was both Australian and female.
Petzel was fired from her position as regional sales manager in 2012. She is seeking punitive and compensatory damages at a trial in the US District Court, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
In the lawsuit, Petzel alleges that Redflex’s former president and chief executive of North American operations, Karen Findley, made derogatory comments about the Australian work ethic.
In her lawsuit, Petzel refers to a 2011 Redflex sales conference in Culver City, Los Angeles. Petzel’s lawyer, John Camillus, wrote: “Ms Finley referred to the work ethic of Australians, implying that Australians did not work as hard as their counterparts in the United States.”
Petzel further claims that Finley was concerned that “potential customers might view Redflex as being too Australian” and questioned how the US marketplace would “receive” Petzel’s Australian accent.
Finley is also in the middle of a corruption scandal in Chicago which has shaken Redflex’s reputation and business in the US. She has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts, including bribery, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery. If found guilty, Finley could face more than 20 years behind bars.
In a memorandum to the judge, Redflex, asked for Petzel’s lawsuit to be dismissed.
“Plaintiff has failed to adduce any direct evidence of gender or national discrimination,” wrote Redflex’s US lawyers.
Redflex’s parent company, Redflex Holdings Group is Australian Stock Exchange-listed with headquarters in Melbourne.
COMMENT: Do Americans work harder than Australians? Do Aussies get a fair go in the US workplace? Leave your thoughts in the comments below: