Wednesday, 21 November 2012

And having said things about discrimination

yesterday I will now say a little more bcause the government is also planning on changes to the laws surrounding discrimination issues.
I know something about these laws. I was a member of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal in my home state at the time a QC argued the state law, as it was then drafted, did not give people the right not to be discriminated against.
That was many years ago. I have long since left the Tribunal. Since then the state legislation has been redrafted and there has been more than one version of Federal legislation as well.
The legislation does not work well. It will never work well. People will always be discriminated against. It is human nature to discriminate. Discrimination is choice. It can be positive although it is often seen as negative - and can have devastating consequences. I also know that all too well from personal experience.
But the government wants to change the ground rules. It is a political issue for them. They have found yet another thing the Opposition will not dare argue against and they will use it, whatever the consequences.
Put simply they want to make it much easier to complain about discrimination. On the surface that sounds like a good idea because people often find it difficult to make a complaint.
But, will it really make it any easier? All, they say, it will now take is for someone to make a complaint and provide "some prima facie evidence". They do not say how much evidence. There will be no cost to the complainant to do this. After that the complainant will not need to do any more. It will then be up to the accused to prove they were not behaving in a discriminatory fashion. In other words the burden of proof has shifted from the person who believes they are discriminated against to the person who is accused of doing the discriminating.  This will apply across all "equal opportunity" legislation.
It will not work. It will not work because many people who are discriminated against are simply unable to take the matter any further. They are simply not articulate enough to do this - even with help. Some of them are not even aware that they are being discriminated against. Even those that are aware of being discriminated against know that a complaint can lead to further discrimination. They will experience delays in services, failures to cooperate and find themselves at the end of any queue. If they are looking for a job they will not even be granted an interview - and the potential employer will have found some way of apparently legitimately not including them in the interview list. Employees looking for promotion will find other barriers put in their way. It rarely pays to complain about real discrimination.
There will be people who do complain of course. They will be articulate, able and they will use the legislation to their advantage. They will be those with a mission in life. A single complaint will rarely be enough. They will find another and another issue to complain about. They will "advocate" for others they say are in the same position as themselves. They know what is "right" for everyone.
And those who really have been discriminated against will rarely complain. Some of them however will try and negotiate. It often gets better results - for everyone.


the fly in the web said...

From U.K. experience with equality legislation, what was designed to assist worthy cases became a manipulator's paradise.

Anonymous said...

Agree again! Bob C-S

catdownunder said...

"Manipulator's paradise"? Good description.