Discrimination at work: Dale’s story

My name is Dale. Roughly 5 years ago, I was employed by a local fruit and vegetable wholesale business as a delivery driver/order picker. The warehouse I worked in at this particular company was a large shed with three cool rooms and a large freezer. The order packing area had air conditioning running all day. At the time I started working there, there were two owners, with one of those owners being the one who employed me. The other I hadn’t met until the owner who employed me sold his part of the business and left.

While I initially found the guy who became the sole owner to be an OK sort if person, a few months later I noticed that he was always yelling at me from the other end of the packing room. One day, the owner told me he was letting me go. When I asked why, he simply said “you can’t hear anything” and that he felt I wasn’t suitable for the job. This happened in front of another employee whose wife is also deaf. He just stood there and didn’t say anything in my defence. I felt like saying something to him, but instead said “Ok, see ya later” and walked off. I went home feeling angry. Rather than take the issue to court or through an advocacy service or fair work, I opted to look for another job. Three weeks later I was working at with a much better employer and a more accepting workplace.

People need to have access to get the information and help they need. Being born deaf has been a lifetime challenge for me, but it is interesting and awesome to get the chance to speak about the difficulties deaf and hard-of-hearing people deal with.

Soundfair recently compiled a submission to the Royal Commission on Disability that focused on workplace discrimination. You can learn more about Dale by watching Soundfair’s Disability Panel: