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Below you can find news on current events, website updates and developments in equal opportunity matters.

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Comment lands Red Square in hot spot

Mr Emmanuel Jalil said that he went to the Red Square nightclub wearing a buttoned collarless shirt, jeans and white shoes.  While waiting in line he was told that he could not enter the club.  He asked why and was eventually told to go home and change his shoes.  Mr Jalil asked security if there was anything else he should change, and the response was "Go cut your hair and change your colour."

Tribunal says no to costs

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Mr Watkins said he was refused employment as a bus driver because his weight was an occupational health and safety risk.  He said he fulfilled the requirements of the job, without incident, while employed by Serco and questioned the validity of the risk.  He said he was discriminated against because of a presumed disability.

The complaint did not proceed to full hearing because Mr Watkins did not attend the hearing and said he was ill.  The complaint was subsequently discontinued.  Southlink sought costs against both Mr Watkins and the Commissioner.

Vale Tony Fitzgerald

South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission staff wish to pay tribute to Tony Fitzgerald, the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, who died on 24 February 2009. Tony was 56 and had fought bravely for 12 years against cancer.

Tony was a fearless defender of those affected by discrimination and disadvantage, and his work extended beyond the Northern Territory's borders. I will greatly miss his contributions to our national work through the Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies.

Treatment not covered by discrimination laws

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On 23 March 2006, Patrick who is transsexual and identifies as a female, went to the Port Adelaide Police Station, where two warrants were found. As release on bail was not permitted on one of the warrants, Patrick was arrested and placed in police custody at the Port Adelaide Police Station. Patrick had not anticipated that she would be placed in custody.

Patrick said that while she was in police custody she was treated unfavourably by the police because of her sexuality, race, religious belief, and an impairment (mental health).

Medical service eligibility not discriminatory

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Medical Service for Refugees, Youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders not discriminatory

The Central Northern Adelaide Health Service has a medical service which can only be used by people who are under 25, from a non-English speaking background or who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.  In a decision handed down on 24 December 2008, the Full Court of the Supreme Court decided that these eligibility criteria were not discriminatory.  The Court said this is because the eligibility criteria come within the exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act

Taxi refuses a ride

Mr Anthony Clarke has a vision impairment and is accompanied by a guide dog.  Mr Clarke said that in August 2006, he was refused a taxi ride because he was with his guide dog.  The taxi is owned and operated by Mr Behrad.  The matter was referred to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal for a decision because it was not conciliated at the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Pre-employment medical tests under examination

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In a decision handed down on 4 September 2008, the Equal Opportunity Tribunal found that failing a back fitness test should not have disqualified a bus driver from getting a job.  Rion Tarr had been working as a bus driver for 12 months when the bus company was sold and he had to apply for the same job with the new employer.  Rion was given pre-employment tests and was told he could not do the job because he failed the back fitness test.  The Tribunal found that a back fitness test did not show whether Mr Tarr could do the job.

Facing the front on the Bus


In a decision handed down on 28 August 2008, the Equal Opportunity Tribunal said that requiring a person in a wheelchair to sit facing the rear of a bus may be discriminatory.  The Tribunal also said that having a canopy on a wheelchair does not necessarily make a wheelchair unsafe for bus travel. 

Facebook falsehoods

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On 24 July 2008 a British man was awarded £17,000 (about $A35,200) in damages by the British High Court after the Court found that he had been defamed via a Facebook entry, and that his privacy had been breached.  His company was also awarded £5,000 ($A10,400) for defamation.

No Taxi for Me and My Dog

A man has been awarded $2309 today in the Equal Opportunity Tribunal after a taxi driver refused to take his guide dog on board.

Mr Ellson who regularly visits Adelaide with his guide dog Luigi, called a taxi to take him from his hotel to the airport. When the taxi driver arrived Mr Ellson was told that Luigi could not ride in the car with him.

In a breakthrough decision, despite the denial of the taxi company, the Tribunal found that the company was responsible for the actions of the taxi driver in refusing to take Mr Ellson's guide dog.

Making a Difference

On Thursday 26 June 2008, Commissioner Linda Matthews spoke at the Making a Difference - Social Inclusion for New and Emerging Communities national conference in Adelaide.

The conference was held for community leaders, service agencies, politicians, academics, researchers and government representatives to come together to participate in responding to the challenge of the community sector having to play a critical role in delivering an Australian social inclusion agenda.

Women sacked for being pregnant

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Article from The Advertiser, Wednesday, June 11 2008. Page 5.

Paid Maternity Leave overdue

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In a submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parenting Leave, South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner Linda Matthews said she often receives enquiries from women who find their employment hours have been reduced upon telling their employer that they are pregnant, or are unable to return to their position after they have taken maternity leave Ms Matthews indicated her support for a paid maternity leave scheme.

She said,

Work-Life Balance

With the Equal Opportunity Bill still in Parliament, Equal Opportunity Commissioner Linda Matthews said she was pleased to see the Final Report of the Select Committee into Balancing Work and Life Responsibilities, tabled in Parliament on 9 April 2008.

The Bill recommends legislation to protect male and female employees from discrimination based on their family and caring responsibilities, and noted that many witnesses strongly supported the changes to the Equal Opportunity Act that would secure this.

It's discrimination - but you still can't join

On 28 February 2008, the Equal Opportunity Tribunal awarded Trish Colquhoun $10 000 and a public apology from the boat club that refused to let her join because she is a woman.

However, the Tribunal stated it did not have the power to compel the club to change its constitution or membership.

Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Ms Linda Matthews, said "this is the first time a case like this has been tested, we are breaking new ground".

Sex and the office

On 27 February 2008, Equal Opportunity Commissioner Linda Matthews was quoted by The Advertiser in an article about sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Later that day she was interviewed about sexual harassment in the workplace on the Alexander and Nicky Downer Afternoon Show on Adelaide radio station 5AA.

Apologising to the Stolen Generations

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On Wednesday 13 February 2008, I joined with thousands of South Australians in Elder Park, to watch the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologise to the Stolen Generations.

Along with many in the crowd, I was moved by the emotional stories of children forcibly removed from their parents, and felt a great sense of pride and relief that Australia was finally acknowledging our past wrongs.

Non-work injuries at the Tribunal

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A test case before the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission on the rights of employees with injuries sustained outside of work ended without a decision on 6 February 2008. The State Government offered a private settlement to a Glenside Hospital Nurse.

In 2003, Hilary Burnett fell at home, and injured her arms. Her injury meant she was unable to lift heavy patients, but could still work on most wards. However, her employer refused to have her back at work until she was cleared for all duties, and refused to make accommodations for her injury.

BAE Exemption

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On 21 January 2008, the Equal Opportunity Tribunal granted BAE Systems an exemption from the South Australia Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to allow it to discriminate against current and future staff members on the basis of nationality, when considering who should work on projects involving controlled defence material from the United States of America.

Clubs must toe the line

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published in the Advertiser, Thursday, 15 November 2007

by ROB MALINAUSKAS

DOUBLE standards on male and female dress codes at nightspots could land pubs and clubs in hot water this summer.

Equal Opportunity Commissioner Linda Matthews said yesterday that in the past financial year, her office had received more complaints from men refused entry into pubs and clubs because they we