A woman who had worked at a Wagga supermarket for more than 20 years was sacked by the store's latest owner because she is not Asian, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.
The woman, aged in her 60s, was a shop assistant at Ashmont FoodWorks and started employment with owner Jianbin 'Eddie' Wang in mid-2016.
In April, Mr Wang messaged her saying he had given her job to someone else.
Mr Wang alleged that she engaged in misconduct, specifically "money shortages" from cash registers, which he said "happened very often", and had unexplained absences from work.
Mr Wang also alleged that on April 3 she failed to notify him of her absence and that on the same day she said to the store manager that she had "had enough of the shop".
About two weeks after the sacking, the former employee lodged an unfair dismissal claim with the commission.
She claimed that management had never approached her about the money allegedly going missing from the cash registers.
She also claimed to have reimbursed the cash registers any time the till was short.
"There was no disciplinary action taken against me and I was never warned of any misconduct," she stated in her submissions.
She also alleged that Mr Wang had been trying to sack her because she is not Chinese.
In his decision last week, commission deputy president Peter Sams said no employer with "common decency would have effected a dismissal in the hopelessly unfair and perfunctory manner admitted to in this case".
He said it was "disgraceful and grossly unfair" and that there was no evidence Mr Wang complied with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.
Before his decision, he conducted research himself after concluding that there was a lack of evidence from both parties.
Mr Sams found past advertisements by Mr Wang on various Chinese-Australian job forums online.
The posts read "Asian lady preferred", "Asian staff preferred" and "more prefer oversea [sic] people".
"The respondent's real motive for dismissing her was Mr Wang's preference to hire staff of Asian speaking backgrounds," he said.
"Had the applicant been minded to steal money for herself (which I do not accept, based on the evidence provided), surely it would have been more than $7 or $10 on any given occasion."
Mr Sams said compensation should be ordered in which the amount will be determined.
The commission's general manager will also consider whether the case should be referred to relevant agencies to investigate potential breaches of anti-discrimination and industrial relations legislation.