Worker fired for mocking company pay with Downfall meme awarded $200k

In 2018, BP refinery worker Scott Tracey posted a Downfall parody on Facebook to mock the company's salary negotiations. So it fired him, claiming it was "highly offensive and inappropriate". Two years later he has emerged victorious from an unfair dismissal case filed against BP in Australia, forcing the company to reinstate him and pay him $200,000 in lost wages, bonuses, pension contributions and tax contributions.

Downfall parodies, taken from the 2004 movie of the same name, show Hitler's final rant with bizarre English subtitles, to give the impression that the Fuhrer is ranting about a trivial issue such as getting banned from XBox Live or running out of toilet paper.

Tracey posted his version in a closed group to amuse colleagues during wage negotiations with BP. Though it did not name BP or individual managers, the company did not get the joke and claimed the meme insinuated a comparison to Nazis. An industrial tribunal didn't understand the context either, agreeing with BP lawyers' claim it was "a direct representation of [BP managers] as Nazis".

But real courts did get the joke, ruling that it was "unreasonable to say the meme had likened BP managers to Nazis," giving him his job back and ultimately awarding Tracey the full amount asked for when BP sought to reduce it.

"We hope this marks the end of a truly unedifying chapter for BP management," Australian Workers Union West Australian secretary Brad Gandy told The Syndey Morning Herald. "To dig in and drag an honest worker through nearly two years of stress and uncertainty, all because a few stuffed shirts didn't get a joke, is poor corporate behaviour."