Funeral Company in Court Over Claim of Racial Discrimination

October 28, 2010
Advertisement

imageThe biggest player in the Australian funeral industry has been accused of racial discrimination over a secret business strategy targeting the lucrative Asian-Australian market.

InvoCare Australia, which owns more than 20 funeral service chains including White Lady, Guardian and Simplicity Funerals, faces a claim in the Federal Magistrates Court from a client manager, Theresa Le.

Ms Le, who is of Vietnamese background, says InvoCare instructed her not to employ Asian staff in the company’s cemetery and crematoriums arm because this might hinder the work of its special ”multicultural unit”.

Court documents show InvoCare employs a special team of consultants, the multicultural unit, to ”market to certain cultural communities”.

Advertisement

The company says the unit was established 15 years ago and exists only to service families from non-English speaking backgrounds where a relationship already exists. But Ms Le said InvoCare had a special deal with the unit that gave it virtually exclusive access to Asian clients and potential clients.

She said the arrangement included an instruction to general staff to stay away from these clients in some circumstances and an unofficial directive to avoid hiring Asian staff because they might impinge on the unit’s territory.

”I tried to employ a consultant who happened to be of Asian background,” Ms Le told the Herald. ”We were ready to go – had her medical check done – but then my boss at the time told me to stop. He didn’t give me an explanation, then finally told me that he’d been told not to employ her because she was Asian. ”Three months later we hired a Westerner to the position.”

In her application Ms Le said the company advised her not to attend social and cultural events within the Asian community.

When she complained about the company’s practices and refused its attempts to move her to the multicultural unit – downgrading her from manager to consultant – Ms Le said senior managers made life difficult for her to force her to leave.

InvoCare strenuously denied Ms Le’s claims, in terms of its business strategies and behaviour towards her. ”[We] strongly believe that we have no case to answer as our business strategies, practices and how we have dealt with Ms Le are entirely appropriate,” said the communications manager, Karl Wolfenden.

”We have established policies and procedures for the handling of complaints such as Ms Le’s. Despite being directed to follow those procedures on numerous occasions, Ms Le chose not to do so. It appears Ms Le has difficulty accepting InvoCare’s legitimate business strategies and how it conducts its businesses to ensure our high customer service standards are maintained.”

Source: smh.com/au

Advertisement

You may be interested

Bizarre Burial Pod Coffins That Grow More Trees.. Not Cut Them Down
Cremation
403 views
Cremation
403 views

Bizarre Burial Pod Coffins That Grow More Trees.. Not Cut Them Down

Madison Ashby - August 16, 2018

Capsula Mundi is an Italian organization with a mission of mastering green burial. This company wants to reinvent the way…

NFDA Announces Officer Election Results
Funeral Industry News
98 views
Funeral Industry News
98 views

NFDA Announces Officer Election Results

CDFuneralNews - August 16, 2018

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is pleased to announce that qualified association members have elected the…

Funeral Service Foundation Now Accepting Select Foundation ’45 Award Applications and Submissions
Funeral Industry News
35 views
Funeral Industry News
35 views

Funeral Service Foundation Now Accepting Select Foundation ’45 Award Applications and Submissions

CDFuneralNews - August 16, 2018

Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation is now accepting online applications and submissions for select Foundation ’45 Awards, which…

Comments