In July 2015, Kotaku Australia published a report on working conditions at EB Games in Australia.
In the wake of that report and an official complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Board, many of the sources involved -- ‘Randall’ and three other former EB Games employees -- went into mediation with EB Games, in an attempt to get a full apology and compensation for the treatment they allegedly received at the hands of EB Games management.
That mediation has failed. Now Randall is planning to take EB Games to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a final resolution.
“After a series of informal negotiations took place, we were unable to achieve an outcome and resolve the matter,” Randall said.
In our report, Randall and multiple other staff members alleged they were verbally abused by EB Games District Manager Mark DiStefano. Some were allegedly attacked for their race, or for being overweight. “Mark on numerous occasions called me an asshole and a cunt,” read one formal complaint sent to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Randall, who is of Indian descent claims he overheard DiStefano telling another colleague he was “gonna end up as a sleazy car salesman or a taxi driver”.
Now, in addition to the alleged abuse, Randall now believes he and numerous other workers were being underpaid by EB Games.
Randall was employed as a ‘Senior Sales Associate’ at EB Games and, as per the General Retail Industry Award 2010, was paid as a ‘level 2 retail worker’. Randall now believes he was performing duties consistent with a ‘level 3 retail worker’ and was consequently not paid in line with the work he was performing.
“After Kotaku ran our story, we discovered evidence that the majority of us were actually paid below what we were entitled,” he claims.
“I performed duties such as providing supervisory assistance, opening and closing the premises, and securing cash. Under the GRIA 2010, I am classified as a Level 3 Retail Employee. EB Games, however, paid me and the 2 other complainants as a Level 2. EB Games have not disputed this fact. They acknowledge this. However, to date, they have still failed to remedy underpayments.”
Randall now has three specific requests: he wants a formal written apology from EB Games, he wants to be compensated for his alleged underpayment and he wants a nationwide EB Games ban -- put in place by Mark DiStefano -- to be lifted.
Randall doesn’t want to give EB Games his business, he simply believes the ban is unfair, unlawful and should be removed.
“Some people think that a business has the right to ban anyone for any reason,” he explained. “This is not true. For example, you can't exclude someone from entering a premise based upon their ethnicity, religious background, or sexuality. This is considered unlawful and a breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act. Likewise, you cannot ban or exclude someone for making a complaint.”
Randall’s nation-wide ban was put in place, he believes, because of his complaints.
Of Randall’s three requests, the written apology is non-negotiable. But so far EB Games has denied any wrong doing and claim, after an internal investigation, that the alleged harassment and abuse did not take place.
Confidentiality prevents Randall from discussing the specifics of what was spoken of during mediation, but confirmed he attended with his parents while EB Games brought Mark DiStefano, another EB Games manager Angela Albrecht, and a HR representative. Randall believes that EB Games has now created an internal HR department in the wake of our first report (a number of sources criticised EB for not having its own internal HR point of contact).
When Kotaku approached EB Games in July 2015 we were informed EB Games did not have an internal HR department.
“Although EB Games Australia does not have a dedicated HR department, all HR roles are covered within the business,” EB Games said in a statement. “This includes contracting an external HR consultancy firm and an independent third-party who operate an Integrity Hotline.”
But when we contacted EB this week to confirm Randall’s account we were told something different.
“As announced in February, we will be continuing to open more retail stores which will create hundreds of job opportunities. Part of this growth was the announcement of an internal Human Resource Manager who has been appointed.”
Regardless, EB Games has appointed an internal HR department since our first report in July this year.
EB refused comment on the current legal situation with Randall. A statement sent to Kotaku read: “[a]s per the legal requirements of this ongoing matter, all parties involved are bound by confidentiality, therefore EB Games is unable to make any statement on this case.”
According to Randall, an early apology would have negated any need for further action.
“If EB Games had called us up, apologised, and given us the support required, I can 100% say I would have dropped the complaints and walked away from this. I can speak for my former colleagues in saying they also would have done the same. At no stage have we requested that anyone be fired or even suspended. We just wanted an acknowledgement that EB Games had a duty of care to look after our safety and well-being while employed by them. They were negligent and we wanted them to acknowledge that. Instead they called us, and several independent witnesses, liars."
Randall has requested that the issue be referred to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for resolution, and is confident the issue will be ruled in his favour.
Randall has formally requested that the matter be referred to a tribunal, but at time of writing no date has been set. He claims his demands are reasonable. He also informed Kotaku that, minus his legal fees, which have been extensive, he plans to donate any compensation he receives to charity. His ultimate hope: EB uses this incident to review their current policies.
“Whether that includes having an internal HR department, or classes on workplace bullying -- that's up to them,” said Randall.
It isn’t about embarrassing EB Games, claims Randall. It’s about holding them accountable for their actions and enabling change for current and future EB Games employees.
“Hopefully they tread more carefully from now on,” said Randall. “I know that there's already been a positive effect at EB. I want that to continue. They have a wonderful opportunity to make EB a fun place to work, free of harassment.
“They have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees, and treat us all like humans. I feel like they haven't done that.”