Former Collingwood footballer Heritier Lumumba is taking legal action against his former club and the AFL claiming he was racially abused during his career with the Magpies and that both organisations failed to provide him with a safe working environment.
In a writ filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria on behalf of Mr Lumumba it is claimed on numerous occasions during his time as a Collingwood player he was subjected to racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct from AFL players and from unnamed employees of the Collingwood Football Club.
It is claimed Collingwood should have been aware of the racial abuse or racially offensive conduct and should have acted to stamp it out.
“The First Defendant failed to take any or any sufficient steps to provide and maintain a safe working environment, including by protecting the Plaintiff from racial abuse or racially offensive conduct,” the writ states.
“By reason of the matters set out above, the First Defendant breached its duty of care, its contractual, and its statutory duties to the Plaintiff.”
It is claimed that the AFL, as the organiser of the AFL competition with its oversight on clubs, owed a duty to Mr Lumumba to take reasonable steps to prevent players subjecting other players to racial abuse and racially-offensive conduct, and to sanction on players who breached those rules.
“At no relevant time did the Second Defendant take any or any sufficient steps to ensure that the Plaintiff was not subjected to racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct,” the writ states.
It is claimed Mr Lumumba has suffered loss, damage, and injury including trauma, humiliation, distress, and loss of enjoyment.”
It is claimed Collingwood had a duty of care to Mr Lumumba because of the employer and employee relationship and had statutory obligations to provide a safe workplace that was free from racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct pursuant to the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Mr Lumumba has spoken often in recent years about his experiences at Collingwood between the years of 2005-2014.
He has claimed that he was nicknamed “chimp” and was subjected to repeated casual racism while at the club.
Collingwood confirmed in June it would run an internal investigation into the claims.
Mr Lumumba said he was insulted that the club would investigate itself and refused to take part in the review.
Mr Lumumba, 33, who is based in the US, is represented by Phi Finney McDonald solicitors.
It is claimed the racial abuse and racially-offensive conduct continued until Mr Lumumba was traded to the Melbourne Football Club in October 2014.
Mr Lumumba is seeking damages from both the AFL and Collingwood for loss, damage and injury as well as costs