Illawarra store manager's behaviour 'absolutely appalling'

EB Games district manager for Dapto and Figtree Mark DiStefano.

EB Games district manager for Dapto and Figtree Mark DiStefano.

A former employee of EB Games in Figtree has accused the store’s district manager of calling him a ‘‘faggot’’, pelting him with stock and referring to him as ‘‘the Indian’’ or Apu from The Simpsons TV show.

The former staffer, Cordeaux Heights man Randall, said the district manager had ordered him and other staff members to ‘‘metaphorically fellate customers’’ to make them happy and if they were still not happy ‘‘bend over the counter’’ and allow them to have sexual intercourse with him.

He claims he was told if he left EB Games he would likely end up a ‘‘taxi driver or sleazy car salesman’’.

Randall, who asked that his surname not be revealed, is one of four former EB Games casual staff  who have filed complaints with WorkCover and the Australian Human Rights Commission over their alleged treatment at the hands of Mark DiStefano. They have also commenced proceedings with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.

The four men have signed statutory declarations alleging sexual harassment, racial discrimination, bullying and intimidation at the Dapto and Figtree stores between October 2013 and February this year.

Randall says that when he and his colleagues eventually complained they were taken off the roster.

Despite being assured they would have shifts on the next month’s roster, no shifts came their way, they said.

‘‘After 22 days we were unable to register a complaint with Fair Work,’’ Randall said.

‘‘Due to our complaints, we all received adverse reactions such as dismissal, or cuts in shifts.

‘‘The amount of stress we all experienced significantly affected our lives. We faced discrimination and we did not complain to any external body at the time ... as we were all worried about how it could affect us.

‘‘However, we now feel that Mark DiStefano’s behaviour was absolutely disgusting and despicable. A number of us suffer from depression and anxiety as a direct result.’’

In his statutory declaration, Randall said he was a casual senior sales associate at EB Games from October 16, 2013, to February 15, 2015, working mostly in the Figtree store.

‘‘During this time there were many workplace incidents of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, racial abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour that took place,’’ Randall alleged.

He said that in 2014 Mr DiStefano referred to him and his colleague Kurt as ‘‘faggots’’ on numerous occasions.

‘‘He would suggest which one of us was dominant and which one of us was submissive,’’ Randall said.

Kurt, a fellow employee, and two other colleagues witnessed the alleged incident.

Kurt, who has also filed a statutory declaration, said Mr DiStefano asked inappropriate questions like when the pair planned to ‘‘marry each other’’.

The 24-year-old from Figtree, who also didn’t want his surname revealed, alleged that on September 25, 2014, Mr DiStefano inappropriately rubbed his back and shoulders which made him extremely uncomfortable.

Both Randall and Kurt allege that on the same day Mr DiStefano threw game cases and toys at Randall and called him an ‘‘idiot’’ and an ‘‘asshole’’. 

A third employee, Brad, of Cordeaux Heights, alleged Mr DiStefano swore at him and called him a ‘‘c---’’ and ‘‘f---ing asshole’’ on numerous occasions.

‘‘He constantly made jokes about my appearance and weight. He on numerous occasions singled me out as a thief,’’ 23-year-old Brad alleged.

‘‘After finding out I had depression he called me a ‘retard’ and weak and that I wasn’t capable of anything. He eventually fired me for this reason’’.

A Dapto man, who asked not to be identified, claims Mr DiStefano called him a ‘‘f---wit’’ and a ‘‘shithead’’ during a ‘‘violent’’ episode where he ripped down items from the shelves ‘‘throwing them around wildly’’.

Mr DiStefano allegedly  said to him that people like him were ‘‘too dumb to breed’’.

‘‘Mark said he would soon start firing people just for being stupid.’’

Randall said he and his former colleagues – including a fifth colleague, Jarrod, and one other former employee who had also signed a statutory declaration  – had come forward because no one deserved to be treated so poorly in the workplace.

A former store manager at the Figtree store has also spoken out in support of his former employees.

Jeff, manager for five years  until September 24, 2014, said once he heard the men were submitting complaints he felt he should speak up.

‘‘Mark never called Randy by his name or his nickname. Only ever referred to him as Apu,’’ Jeff said.

‘‘Mark would also come to the store ...  and if something wasn’t done to his satisfaction, he would aggressively rip down shelves of store product and hurl them violently in various directions whilst carrying on swearing.

‘‘I have worked for Mark a long time and can attest to his absolutely appalling and disgusting way he conducts himself.’’

The four men say they were too afraid to contact the company for fear of reprisals, and were uneasy about going to external authorities.

 ‘‘Then we started talking to other people and decided we wanted to tell our story because we know this is still happening and it isn’t right,’’ Kurt said.

Four former EB Games staff members who have accused an Illawarra district manager of bullying and discrimination say they are not seeking compensation for the way they have been treated.

‘‘We just wanted anyone else that has experienced bullying to come forward,’’ Randall, of Cordeaux Heights said.

‘‘We also want adequate procedures in place to make sure that if it was to occur, there are appropriate channels for reporting incidents without fear of reprisal,’’ he said.

‘‘Especially when it’s about a senior manager in the company.’’

The Illawarra men have filed complaints with WorkCover and the Australian Human Rights Commission over their alleged treatment at the hands of Mark DiStefano at the Dapto and Figtree stores between October 2013 and February this year.

NSW WorkCover confirmed in a letter to Randall his allegations had been raised with EB Games Australia.

‘‘They have been informed of their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety legislation and have been provided with information to enable them to respond to the issues raised,’’ the letter said.

‘‘An inspector may visit the workplace at some time in the future to request details of how Electronics Boutique Australia Pty Limited responded to the issues being raised with them,’’ WorkCover said.

EB Games told the Mercury that WorkCover had advised it would not be taking the matter further.

‘‘Our correspondence from WorkCover NSW is that they have reviewed and have advised they will not be perusing [sic] the matter any further.’’

However, WorkCover subsequently told the Mercury: ‘‘The matter is still under consideration by WorkCover.’’

When asked about the conflicting statements over WorkCover’s involvement, EB Games told the Mercury the allegations against Mr DiStefano would be investigated internally.

The EB Games spokesman said EB Games Australia went ‘‘above and beyond to provide their employees with a safe working environment and has a zero tolerance on bullying and harassment’’.

‘‘EB Games have not received any reports internally or on the integrity hotline regarding the alleged incident you are referring to.’’

The Human Rights Commission could not comment on individual cases but indicated in a letter to one of the complainants that the information provided by the four men would be used to assess, investigate and/or conciliate their complaints.

Attempts to contact Mr DiStefano have been unsuccessful. EB Games, in a letter on his behalf, said he would not be responding. 

Do you know more? Email investigations@illawarramercury.com.au

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