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New Zealand baker sues employer for racial discrimination because co-workers nicknamed her ‘kiwi’

New Zealand-born bakery staffer sues her boss for racial discrimination after being nicknamed ‘kiwi’ by her co-workers – but he says it’s a term of endearment

  • A New Zealander has taken her former boss to court for racial discrimination
  • Julie Savage claims she was ‘disrespected’ when her co-workers called her ‘kiwi’
  • Vili’s bakery owner Vili Milistits argued the nickname was a term of endearment

A New Zealand woman has accused her former boss of racial discrimination after he called her ‘kiwi’. 

Julie Savage, a former supervisor at the Vili’s Cakes kitchen in Adelaide, said she was ‘disrespected’ when her co-workers repeatedly called her a ‘kiwi’ instead of using her name.

But her complaint, which was heard before the South Australian Employment Tribunal, was dismissed as a ‘perceived lack of respect’.

Vili Milisits (pictured) was accused of discriminating against a New Zealand employee

Ms Savage was first called ‘kiwi’ back in 2016 by her co-workers and bakery owner Vili Milisits, 70.

She quit her job soon after and took the complaint to the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Adelaide Now reports.

Before a tribunal, Ms Savage said she wasn’t claiming to be treated unfairly due to her heritage, but rather that the nickname was ‘disrespectful’.

But the case was still treated as a racial discrimination case, with the investigation taking 18 months.

The New Zealand native claims she was disrespected when she was called a 'kiwi' while working at Mr Malistis' cafe (pictured)

The New Zealand native claims she was disrespected when she was called a ‘kiwi’ while working at Mr Malistis’ cafe (pictured)

On Sunday, the claim was dismissed by Tribunal Judge Leonie Farrell, who said: ‘Calling a New Zealander a Kiwi is not of itself offensive. Kiwi is not an insult.’

The bakery’s owner admitted he had called Ms Savage the moniker, but argued that it was a fond nickname and never intended to be demeaning.

Judge Farrell ultimately agreed, throwing out any accusations of discrimination.

‘It was pretty satisfying when I saw what the commissioner said ­– I’m happy with that,’ Mr Milistits said.

He thanked the tribunal for finding in his favour, but said the 18-month-long trial was ‘slow’.


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