Home Australia Bryce was fired from his job after uttering a surprising line to his co-worker over dinner. He says it was “just a word” he saw on TV, but MUCH more than that has been discarded.

Bryce was fired from his job after uttering a surprising line to his co-worker over dinner. He says it was “just a word” he saw on TV, but MUCH more than that has been discarded.

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Bryce Waite (pictured) was suspended for misconduct for a racist statement at a work function

EXCLUSIVE

A public official and former police officer who was suspended with full pay after saying “my white black” to an Indigenous colleague has tried to argue that the term is “just a word” that his daughter and her friends often use as a greeting.

Bryce Waite, 61, was removed from his role as compliance officer for the Queensland government’s Department of Environment and Science over comments he made during a working dinner at the Oxford Hotel in Rockhampton on February 22, 2023.

Waite had been discussing the racist slur with another colleague when a young Indigenous co-worker joined the conversation and became upset after hearing him say the offensive phrase.

When asked about the matter, he said: “What, it’s just a word, black.”

Waite attempted to challenge the suspension in an appeal to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, but failed last week. He has now been asked to demonstrate why he should not lose his job.

He is not allowed to comment until the matter is resolved, but his partner Sharon told Daily Mail Australia that the father-of-two believes the situation is unfair.

She said he, too, regrets the interaction and now knows he shouldn’t use the term at all.

Bryce Waite (pictured) was suspended for misconduct for a racist statement at a work function

Waite (pictured) attempted to defend his use of a racist term during an appeal over his suspension.

Waite (pictured) attempted to defend his use of a racist term during an appeal over his suspension.

The details of the incident were revealed in the appeal ruling, handed down by Commissioner Jacqueline Power on June 11.

According to the published ruling, Waite attempted to appeal his suspension by arguing that he did not know the co-worker identified as Indigenous.

She also said it was her choice to join the conversation in the pub, implied that no one would have been offended if she had stayed out of it, and took her comment out of context.

He repeatedly stated that the term was “just a word”, he did not intend to offend her, and he was sorry that she was offended, although he continued to use the term in his performances.

Waite compared the situation to the fact that he was a Jewish person and had no problem with being called “Jew,” an argument that was rejected by the commissioner, who noted that “calling someone a Jew is not anti-Semitic.” .

‘It is the result of a person’s religion. There are many derogatory terms for a person of Jewish faith that they may not accept so easily,’ he stated in his sentencing.

Waite then attempted to justify his use of the term by comparing it to other curse words frequently used in the workplace, which the commissioner deemed “not the same thing” and showed a lack of understanding of “the seriousness of the term.”

Waite (pictured) has accepted that he should no longer use the offensive term.

Waite (pictured) has accepted that he should no longer use the offensive term.

Additionally, the commissioner found it concerning that Waite sought evidence from a former colleague at another workplace to show that no offense was intended because his team would regularly use the term in day-to-day conversations.

He claimed that his former team had “come together to disempower the term.”

The commissioner rejected that claim, saying: ‘They didn’t do it. They simply demonstrated that casual racism on that team was acceptable and everyday.

“The fact that another employer tolerated that term as ‘defense mechanism’ is an appalling reflection on that team and that employer.”

Another defense was that his daughter and her friends often used the insult as a greeting, which the commissioner said “ignores the social and historical context of the term.”

In his submissions, Mr Waite argued that his human rights had been violated because he was denied the right to have an opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of expression.

However, that argument was also rejected because those freedoms are not unlimited, and Waite admitted to using a racist term in a presentation to the commission.

His employer responded to the alleged human rights violation in subsequent submissions to the commission, saying: “(Mr Waite’s) apparent ignorance about racial slurs and his belief that they are ‘just a word’ is not a human right.” .

The incident took place at the Oxford Hotel in Rockhampton (pictured), northern Queensland, last year.

The incident took place at the Oxford Hotel in Rockhampton (pictured), northern Queensland, last year.

The commissioner confirmed the original decision to suspend Mr Waite.

She eventually discovered that he had not shown genuine remorse because he seemed to regret that the colleague had been offended, suggesting that it was her fault for feeling offended.

“That is not a genuine apology,” the ruling said.

“Whether or not you genuinely apologized to (the coworker), it does not alter the fact that the offense occurred and that (she) was offended.”

‘The department finds the comment highly inappropriate, regardless of your response. (Your) response demonstrates the impact that comments of this nature can and do have.’

Waite’s partner Sharon, who has been receiving cancer treatment throughout his ordeal, told Daily Mail Australia he wants his job back and believes he was treated unfairly, although he accepts he was wrong to use the term.

“Bryce didn’t have the opportunity to mediate with the girl,” he said.

“He apologized to her, but he didn’t go through the process of going to the supervisor to fix it that way; they made it clear they wanted to fire him.”

Sharon said Waite didn’t really think there was anything wrong with the word, partly because he had seen it used casually on American comedy shows and people from younger generations, like his daughter, seemed to use it affectionately.

“A lot of language that used to be indecent is now acceptable language,” he said.

“To him, it was just another word he used, and he didn’t use it to be mean or racist, but he accepts that it shouldn’t be used.”

Sharon explained Waite left the police force in Victoria some time ago and had worked in different local government departments for 30 years without incident.

He had only been at this particular job for four months when he was suspended for misconduct, meaning he has now been on paid suspension for much longer than he was an employee.

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