Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

Shifts changed because of husband

Conciliation: Marital status discrimination in employment

Published: 23 October 2017

A woman was moved to a different shift at work on the grounds of a conflict of interest because she was being supervised by her husband.

Story 

A woman who worked in a warehouse was married to one of the warehouse supervisors. The company received internal complaints from colleagues that it was inappropriate for her husband to be signing off her time sheets, and that he was favouring her in terms of workplace benefits such as training and overtime. 

After the internal complaints, the woman’s shifts were changed so she was not supervised by her husband. When he was moved to another shift, she was moved again and asked to start work very early, which did not suit her due to travel arrangements. She asked to start a bit later which was accepted, but this meant she lost her shift loading.

Then there was a restructure and she was only successful in gaining a part-time position when she wanted a full-time one. She believed that other less qualified staff were given full-time positions and she was not because of her marital status and the internal complaint. She made a complaint of marital status discrimination to the Board. 

The company said that although there was no finding of inappropriate behaviour, they removed the complainant from her husband’s supervision to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. They denied that the allocation of the part-time position was because of the internal complaint and said it was based solely on competencies.

The complaint was settled when the employer agreed that the woman, who was now on maternity leave, could return part-time to her original afternoon shift, which meant she would receive a shift allowance. They also agreed to consider her a full-time role if one became available, and to review the situation re full-time roles when she was due to return.

​​​Back to October 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​​​​

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