Employment Discrimination Complaints at the Act Human Rights Office: Players, Process, Legal Principles and Outcome
Contemporary Issues in Law, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 62-79, 2006
12 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2009 Last revised: 21 Jun 2018
Date Written: 2006
Most employment discrimination complaints are either declined or conciliated at a Commonwealth or State Human Rights or Equal Opportunity agency. Confidential processes mean that little is known about how the relevant legislation is applied. To investigate how the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Human Rights Office (HRO) interprets and implements relevant sections of the ACT Discrimination Act 1991, we interviewed staff and analyzed 105 complaints of employment discrimination relating to age, pregnancy, status as a parent or carer or sexual harassment made between 2001- 2005. Agreement outcome correlates with specific background and process traits including gender, size of the workplace, type of organization, witness statements, number and type of grounds and legal advice. Agreement rates were exceptionally high. Conciliation was directed in about half the cases and settlement reached in 85% of the 48 conferences convened (39% of total cases). This high resolution rate is a result of specific aspects of the legislation and the HRO complaints process. It is indicative of law’s capacity to deliver for victims of employment discrimination in the ACT.
Keywords: employment discrimination, ACT
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