ALH’s Royal Oak Hotel is the subject of commentary suggesting the world has “gone mad” with political correctness, after a 72-year-old regular was banned for commenting on a staffer wearing shorts in a heatwave.
Leonard Lee is a retired screenwriter, best known for the 1992 hit animated film Blinky Bill, as well as award-winning documentaries for SBS and CNN.
In February he went to the Australian Leisure & Hospitality (ALH) Hotel’s drive-through to buy a bottle of wine, on a 42-degree day. Seeing a staff member he considered himself to be on friendly terms with, he reportedly comments “nice to see you are in shorts”.
The staffer is said to have not appreciated the comment, and later reported it as having made her feel uncomfortable.
When Lee returned the next day, a venue manager informed him of the complaint, suggesting he had spoken to her in an inappropriate manner.
“I don’t like sleazebags, I don’t like drunks abusing staff and I do not indulge in conversations which objectify women.”
A few days later, returning again, he was confronted by the staffer, who demanded an apology. Lee maintained his innocence of impropriety, but claims his credit card was thrown back into the car.
Following this, he was asked to meet with management at the pub, where he was served with a 30-day barring order, reputedly guilty of offensive behaviour toward a staff member, although having not presented his story.
He says he offered to apologise for inadvertently causing offence, but is not permitted to return before 28 March.
Licensees in South Australia are permitted to ban any patron from what they consider offensive or inappropriate behaviour, under the Liquor Licensing Act.
Friends of Lee vouched for his character to The Advertiser, disclosing he was currently providing evidence against sexual predators in the film and television industries, as part of the #MeToo movement.
Instances of false accusations, even arising from misunderstandings, are likely to have more detrimental effects on the chances of justice for genuine victims.
The Royal Oak declined to comment on the situation.