Downfall: BP worker sacked after Hitler meme wins payout

Bruno Ganz in the role of Adolf Hitler in Downfall

Copyright of the image

Image caption

The meme used the dramatic scene from the Downfall movie

A BP refinery worker in Australia who was fired for parodying the company via a well-known Hitler meme received a payment of $ 200,000 (£ 109,000).

Scott Tracey used the popular meme, from the 2004 movie Downfall, to portray scenes of corporate salary negotiations, posting it on a closed Facebook group.

He was fired from the company. However, after a two-year legal battle, he won an unfair dismissal case and returned to work.

Payment covers lost earnings.

The meme uses a dramatic scene in Downfall – in which Hitler angrily confronts his generals in his bunker – and replaces the subtitles with alternative dialogue as a joke.

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BP had said it was “highly offensive and inappropriate” and rejected Mr. Tracey. The refinery worker first took his case before a court, arguing for the unfair dismissal, but lost.

Mr. Tracey then appealed, insisting that he had no intention of offending anyone and that the video was supposed to be funny. He added that he didn’t identify BP or anyone in particular.

The federal court ruled that it was unreasonable to claim that the meme compared BP managers to the Nazis and Mr. Tracey was allowed to return to work.

On Monday he was awarded $ 177,325 in lost wages and bonuses, less taxes, and also $ 24,070 in retirement or pension contributions.

BP had argued that Mr. Tracey should have been paid $ 150,000, less than what he would have earned had he not been fired.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the company wanted to deduct some money because the video was shared with colleagues, which BP claimed was misconduct.

BP also said more money should be deducted as Mr. Tracey could have found work during the trial.

The Fair Work Commission said there was no evidence to support Mr. Tracey not looking for work.

Brad Gandy, secretary of the Australian Workers Union, said that Mr. Tracey went through “unnecessary drama”.

“Digging and dragging an honest worker through nearly two years of stress and uncertainty, all because some padded shirts didn’t have a joke, is shoddy business behavior,” Gandy told the Sydney Morning Herald.

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