Parental status case studies

Return to work after a baby

The complainant was trying to negotiate with her employer to return to her job part - time after having a baby. Protracted negotiations resulted between the parties leading in the complainant deciding not to return to work.

At the conciliation conference the director of the business provided a heartfelt apology to the complainant for the way the negotiations had dragged on and this resulted in the complainant being a lot more flexible in negotiations because she felt this apology was genuine and gave her 'a feeling of being listened to and heard'. The complaint was resolved at the conference.

(Source: ADCQ annual report 2012-13)


Relationship status and parental status discrimination in pre-work

A woman alleged that she had been requested to provide details on an employment application form about her date of birth, medical history, marital status, number of children and the ages of her children.

The Commission contacted the respondents and advised them that it was unlawful to request information on which unlawful discrimination might be based, and that the Commission had received a complaint about their employment application forms.

The respondents said they were unaware that it was unlawful to request this information and that the application form was one that had been used by the company for many years without being reviewed.

The complaint resolved when the company agreed to remove the personal questions from their employment application forms. Although not requested by the complainant, the company also forwarded her a letter of apology, and sought the Commission's advice about recruitment practices and policy implementation.


Sexuality and parental status discrimination in work

A gay man alleged sexuality and parental status discrimination while employed with a retailer. He claimed he was subjected to numerous taunts, remarks and lurid suggestions relating to his sexuality, from management as well as co-workers. He also said he was called derogatory names over the loud-speaker and that regularly he would find items for sale, arranged to mock his sexuality.

The man also said when he had applied to work in the specialist children's section, he was unsuccessful in gaining the position because he was not a parent. He said he was forced to resign.

The retailer denied the allegations and counter claimed that the man openly discussed his sexuality in the work place, which offended some staff and clients, and that the man's work performance had diminished over the three years he was employed. The retailer also denied telling him the other job needed a worker who was a parent.

The matter was resolved at conciliation with the retail store agreeing to pay the man $12,500 in general damages, providing a statement of regret and statement of service to the man, and an assurance that all staff would be retrained on anti-discrimination and sexual harassment legislation.


Parental status in accommodation

A woman booked holiday accommodation at a guest house which offered peaceful and tranquil holidays. On phoning the guest house the day before arriving, to check that a cot could be provided for her 10 month old baby, she was apparently informed that the guest house does not accommodate children and her booking was cancelled. She was refused the refund of her deposit previously paid.

When notified of the complaint the guest house owners argued that their premises were not suitable for children, in that the premises were situated amongst heavy terrain which included an unfenced creek. They also argued that they had established the guest house to provide a service to holiday makers who wanted a stress free, peaceful and romantic holiday away from daily pressures and the exuberant energy and sometimes noisy enthusiasms of children.

The matter resolved with the guest house owners offering an apology for the hurt caused to the woman and her family, a return of the woman's cheque being the deposit paid, an assurance that they were now well informed on anti-discrimination laws and an undertaking to clearly inform future holiday makers of the type of facilities offered at their premises.