Men are more prepared to raise issues in the workplace about
balancing work and non-work commitments.
There is an interesting development in the law. More so than
ever before, men are making complaints about discriminatory
treatment in the workplace arising from their obligations as
caregivers to their children and other family members. The recent
decision of Bishop v Gedge  QADT 17 is an
Mr Bishop was an employee of Carpet Call from November 2003 to
July 2005. He initially started as a store person and progressed to
timber warehouse supervisor. At the relevant time, Mr Bishop had
five children aged from to two to 17, all of whom lived at home
with him and his wife.
Mr Bishop alleged that he had been discriminated against on the
basis of parental status and family responsibilities under the
terms of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).
Specifically, Mr Bishop claimed that he was discriminated
being denied further training for the position of installation
manager, after he had taken on short notice a period of leave on
account of family responsibilities;
not being given a pay review after taking that leave;
having annual leave deducted from his accrued leave
entitlements because he had taken that leave when he was also
required to make up the time he had off;
being denied short carers' leave on 16 July 2005 when he
asked to take his daughter to the hospital and then being given a
choice between remaining or abandoning his post with the
implication that if he chose the later he would not have a job to
Member Forrest of the Tribunal found in favour of some aspects
of Mr Bishop's claims.
In particular Member Forrest found Mr Bishop had been
discriminated against on the basis of family responsibilities when
he was denied short carers' leave and when given the choice
that he reasonably understood would result in him losing his job if
he chose to leave work to take care of his sick daughter.
Member Forrest also found in favour of Mr Bishop in respect of
his claim concerning the provision of further training. He found
that access to training that Mr Bishop had commenced in early 2005
had ceased as a result of the number of short-term absences Mr
Bishop had taken in relation to family responsibilities concerning
his wife and son. Member Forrest found that Mr Bishop's work
performance was not affected by the leave and as a result his
employer had denied him further training as a direct result of his
Member Forrest dismissed the remainder of Mr Bishop's
claims. He held that Mr Bishop was mistaken in his expectation of
being promised an additional pay review and therefore no
unfavourable treatment was found to have occurred. He found also
that Mr Bishop did not have his annual leave unlawfully debited
after he had worked extra hours to make up the time taken on
Member Forrest awarded Mr Bishop $17,500 as general damages for
the depressive illness, hurt, humiliation and embarrassment
suffered as result of the unlawful discrimination. Mr Bishop was
also awarded $16,000 compensation for economic loss resulting from
the termination of the employment.
The fact that working men have family responsibilities is hardly
news. However, what this decision highlights is a growing
preparedness of men to raise issues as the debate in the workplace
about balancing work and non-work commitments broadens and extends
beyond the experiences of women as primary carer-givers. Certainly,
the decision in Bishop highlights the need for employers
to be aware that a failure to consider the family responsibilities
of all its employees can give rise to
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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