The ad on the Gumtree website sought cleaners for a supermarket at Eastlands Shopping Centre in Hobart, according to local media reports. It triggered outraged on social media sites, with people calling for a boycott of the store.
Local newspaper The Mercury reported that the ad was later removed from the site.
A Coles spokesman on Monday admitted the ad had been posted by a contract company responsible for cleaning its Rosny store. "The ad was placed without Coles' knowledge and we were extremely concerned to learn of the ad and its contents," spokesman Jim Cooper said.
Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks was quoted as saying that she wanted to track down the cleaning contractor to pursue possible legal action. "It's unlawful to blanket preclude a person because of their race," she said.
Banks said she often received complaints about job ads that discriminated against particular races. She said both the company offering the position and the publisher of the advert could be subject to legal action.
"Gumtree is probably in breach (of the law) as well because the Act says you can't publish, display, etcetera, material that is discriminatory," Banks said, adding "I've had other ads in print form and other sites brought to my attention, which I've followed up with the publisher. That tends to result in it getting pulled very quickly."