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Man sues British wife over anti-Australian racial discrimination

A British woman has been ordered to pay her estranged husband $180,000 after he sued her for racial discrimination, alleging she viewed Australians as an “inferior race”.Duncan Bendall, a businessman who grew up in Sydney, took his wife Fiona and the company they set up together to the London Employment Tribunal after the couple separated,…

A British woman has been ordered to pay her estranged husband $180,000 after he sued her for racial discrimination, alleging she viewed Australians as an “inferior race”.

Duncan Bendall, a businessman who grew up in Sydney, took his wife Fiona and the company they set up together to the London Employment Tribunal after the couple separated, The Times reported.

Mr and Mrs Bendall founded The Female Social Network in 2016 while they were living in Sydney. Their marriage began to break down after they returned to London last year, until Mr Bendall was eventually sacked in August for “gross misconduct”.

He took his case to the tribunal alleging he had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against based on his race and sex.

As the relationship deteriorated Mrs Bendall became “increasingly abusive and bullying”, Mr Bendall said.

Mr Bendall told the tribunal he had been victimised by his wife, with the board forcing through a change in share holdings from 50-50 to 51-49 in favour of Mrs Bendall in order to market the company as female-owned.

“Fiona told them (the board) that I would be compliant as long as the investment comes in,” Mr Bendall told the tribunal, according to The Times. “I believe the optics were not as good as introducing a male founder to prospective investors, especially one as a plain-talking Australian, compared to an English woman.”

Mrs Bendall, who was nominated for the 2019 NSW Business Woman of the Year Award, allegedly gave her husband just 12 hours to object to the proposal while he was in Australia for Anzac Day.

During the argument, she sent him an email which read, “I hate Australian mentality and you have it droves just shit … And DO NOT say you are a founder in MY business MY efforts ever again You Leech – you don’t even believe in women or have ever struck your neck out.”

In August he learned his bags had been packed and he was being kicked out of the London home they shared, which was also the company’s office. “It is clear that we are done … Your belongings will be packed … Ed and Praveen will meet with you to discuss TFSN and the way forwards,” Mrs Bendall texted her husband.

Mr Bendall told the tribunal running the business from their family home had put a strain on their relationship, with staff often drinking and smoking at the house after work.

“Fiona had an ­almost exclusively female team — there was one male who worked as a sales intern — and they got into the habit of staying up late drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in the family home,” he told the tribunal.

“Many of the colleagues were smokers and used to stand outside the house smoking directly under the bedroom window of my and Fiona’s 15-year-old daughter. This used to distress me and I would ask them to stop.”

He said it was one of these altercations that was cited as justification for his dismissal.

“She kept treating Australia as an inferior race, despite living there for 15 years,” he said.

The employment judge accepted he had been discriminated against based on race, but not on sex, ordering Mrs Bendall to pay him more than £100,000 ($180,500).

frank.chung@news.com.au

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