Sexuality case studies

Sexuality discrimination in work

A woman alleged she was sacked by her employer because she was a lesbian. The respondent found it offensive that she and her partner had once held hands when they left his premises and he had also written religious quotes condemning homosexuality in a book she was reading.

He cited work performance and claimed her replacement was a better worker. He agreed that he did not like the fact that she was a lesbian but maintained that it was not the reason she was sacked. The matter settled with compensation of $1,000.

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Sexual harassment and sexuality discrimination in work

The complainant alleged that her employers and several co-workers had sexually harassed and discriminated against her on the grounds of her sexuality. Her partner also lodged a complaint on the basis of association. The alleged harassment and discrimination occurred in a heavily cultured and institutionalised work environment.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission made contact and meetings were arranged with individual respondents at the work site to quickly establish the Commission's role and processes. A significant amount of time was spent in preparation of parties by reality testing, dispelling rumour and exploring the options of structuring the conciliation conferences on the day. It became evident that other issues outside the jurisdiction of the Commission were also involved in the complaint.

It was decided by the two conciliators to run three separate conciliation conferences on the day to assist in dividing the relevant issues and balancing numbers. The outcome resulted in various verbal understandings and three written conciliation agreements which included sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training for staff on a yearly basis.

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Sexuality discrimination and sexual harassment in work

The complainant alleged that he had suffered discrimination in his all-male industrial work environment when his co-workers learned he was homosexual. He was subjected to taunts about homosexuals, slammed on the head and hit on the backside and excluded at lunchtime. When the discrimination was reported there were delays in dealing with it.

The complainant went on stress leave and suffered agoraphobia because he feared victimisation as a result of his complaint.

The complainant was reluctant to face so many respondents at conciliation conference due to his emotional state and the fact that his solicitor would be on teleconference. The conciliator arranged for a suitable support person which raised the complainant's faith in the process.

All but one of the respondents denied the allegations. However, the conciliation took a positive turn when the lawyers were negotiating a final figure and the conciliator was talking informally with the respondents. They expressed a willingness to apologise to the complainant for causing him any distress by their behaviour and to allay his fears of retribution if he saw them in public. Although informal, the apologies and handshakes were genuine and contributed to a resolution for both complainant and respondents.

The company agreed to provide a statement of service, acknowledged pain and suffering felt by the complainant and paid $17,500 which included compensation and lost wages.

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Sexuality discrimination in work

A woman alleged that, as a consequence of a new relationship with a co-worker, she had duties and responsibilities taken away from her in her position. She also had her rosters changed. She was subjected to jokes within a sexual harassment context in relation to her new partner.

Her new partner similarly complained that he was discriminated against on the basis of the new relationship. He alleged a change of rosters which had been the subject of a previous agreement with his employer to assist him with child care responsibilities, changes to his work routine and a reduction in responsibility.

Their employer denied any discrimination stating that there had been a restructure in the organisation and that these changes had been a consequence of this.

The complaint was settled with a written apology, a work reference and a financial settlement which included compensation and loss of wages of $21,295 for the woman; and $16,414 for the man.

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