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Homosexual discrimination - Conciliations

 

      

    Employment

    Discrimination issues in community organisation

    A man lodged a complaint of homosexual discrimination against a large community organisation of which he was a member. He said that another member had made offensive comments about his sexuality and discouraged other members from participating in a group that the complainant was running. This member had also questioned his right to be a member of the organisation.

    At conciliation, the organisation’s representatives said that the reason for questioning of his membership was not related to his homosexuality, and they had a right to question it on that basis. They agreed that they had not particularly supported the group he ran, but this was also unrelated to his homosexuality. The complainant said that he had not known about these reasons and that what he wanted was clear grievance procedures within the organisation so that he could have had his problems addressed internally.

    The complaint was settled when the parties agreed that the complainant would submit proposals for improved grievance procedures, and the representatives would submit and support these to the organisation’s management. They also agreed to provide the complainant with a statement of regret.

    Removed from direct service provision

    A branch manager of a community organisation delivering health education programs alleged that the CEO told him to cease direct involvement in one of the programs because he was male and openly homosexual. The CEO denied this, saying that the program was peer-based and the branch manager should not be directly involved. The CEO said it was particularly important for delivery to be appropriate as there had recently been complaints which raised duty of care considerations. The matter was resolved when the respondent agreed to provide the complainant with a written reference.

    Harassed at work

    A clerk alleged that he was harassed by his supervisor and co-workers, and when he complained to management about this his supervisor increased scrutiny of his work. The matter was resolved when the respondent provided the complainant with a written commitment of its support for anti-discrimination, harassment and victimisation and an undertaking to provide training in this area to its employees.

    Investigated and suspended after complaining

    A gay man working at a recreational facility alleged that he was harassed by members of staff, who referred to him in an offensive manner. He said when he complained about an offensive comment in a staff communication, he was subjected to an investigation and suspended from work. The complaint was settled when the man agreed to accept a payment of $6,000.

    Harassed by manager

    A woman working in a branch office of a financial institution alleged that she was harassed by the assistant manager because of her homosexuality, and when she made a complaint the employer did not investigate her claim properly. After an argument in which the woman swore at the assistant manager, she was allowed to resign from her position instead of being terminated. 

    The employer denied the allegations and said that there had been ongoing problems with the woman’s work, including swearing. At the time of making the complaint the woman had begun working in a different section of the financial institution through an employment agency. The matter was resolved at the Board when the employer agreed to make the woman a permanent employee in her current position.

    Hostile working environment

    A lesbian working in the welfare area complained that due to the behaviour of a particular female colleague, her office had developed an environment that was hostile to homosexual people. The behaviour included lewd jokes and comments about homosexual people and lesbians in particular, and at an office Christmas party she was given a candle in the shape of a penis.

    After complaining to management, all her belongings were packed into a box while she was on leave, and cartoons depicting sexual acts were packed in with them. She then received written advice that her transfer request had been approved, even though she had not requested one. The woman sought an apology, reassurance and general damages from the employer. At a conciliation conference at the Board, the parties came to an undisclosed private settlement of the complaint.

    Dismissed after complaint

    A man working in the recruitment industry, alleged that he was treated less favourably because of his homosexuality by many staff at the company, including his managers. He said that when he complained about this, his complaints were dismissed or were not followed up appropriately by management. He also alleged that he was victimised by being dismissed from his employment.

    The matter was settled at the Board by a payment of $9,000, $6,000 of which was paid to a charity in which the man worked as a volunteer. The employer also agreed to provide training for all its staff on discrimination and harassment issues.

    Members discriminate against employee at club

    A gay man employed at a registered club alleged that he was harassed by members and guests. He said that although he had recorded a number of matters in the club's incident book, these were not adequately dealt with by management. He also claimed that he was threatened with legal action by a board member after one incident he recorded. He had taken time off work for stress leave and did not feel able to return to the workplace.

    At conciliation, the man explained to the employer that he had come to the Board only because the complaint processes used by the club were not effective in dealing with the harassment, and he would have preferred to resolve the matter directly with his employer. The matter was resolved with the payment of $10,000 to the man in exchange for his signing a deed of release. The club has sought assistance from the Board in reviewing its discrimination and harassment policies and grievance procedure, and has made enquiries about training for staff and board members.

    Questioned about sexual preference

    Before two women were transferred to a new, predominantly male workplace, rumours were circulated that 'two dykes were coming'. On arrival they were questioned about their sexual preference by the branch manager and were subjected to ongoing harassment by some employees. At conciliation, the employer agreed to pay the complainants substantial compensation, and the Anti-Discrimination Board conducted training on discrimination which all staff in the branch were required to attend.

    Goods and services

    Abused at hotel 

    A man went to a hotel to buy some cigarettes. The attendant refused to serve him, calling him a ‘faggot’. The man complained to the Board, who contacted the licensee of the hotel. The man agreed to meet with the licensee and the licensee agreed to implement a policy so that all refusals of service would be referred to him first. The licensee also apologised to the man.

    Change in fostering policy

    A fostering organisation refused to consider a man's application because he was gay. After conciliation, the organisation agreed to change their policy and apply the same criteria to all people applying to foster a child regardless of their sexuality.

    Accommodation

    Lesbian couple refused accommodation

    A lesbian complained that she was refused accommodation by a real estate agent when she made it clear to the agent that she was intending to share the accommodation with her female lover. The Anti-Discrimination Board contacted the agent and explained that discriminating against the woman because of her lesbianism was against the law. The agent then offered the woman alternative accommodation and agreed to review all the office policies for possible discriminatory practices.

    Registered clubs

    Ejected from a club

    Two women alleged that they were ejected from a club by security staff when one of the women lifted the other during a dance. They also claimed that they were assaulted and vilified by security staff while being ejected from the premises.

    At conciliation, the parties agreed that the women had previously been dancing together without incident, and that security staff had only approached them when this manoeuvre occurred off the dance floor. The security staff denied any vilification and asserted that the women were only ejected when they became argumentative and violent, and had to be forcibly removed from the club.

    The matter was resolved when the parties agreed to a statement of mutual regret about the incident.