Anti-Discrimination Tribunal Message Clear: Policies are not Enough

The NT Anti-Discrimination Tribunal has found an Aboriginal economic development company vicariously liable for race discrimination committed by two of its employees despite it having anti-discrimination policies and procedures in place, because it did not support these policies with training.

This case sends a clear warning to employers about the steps it needs to take to avoid successful claims of vicarious liability.

The facts of the case involved a complaint by Frances Newchurch – a Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna, Narrunga woman – that in the course of her employment with Centreprise Resource Group (Centreprise) she was discriminated against by two of her colleagues. The Tribunal upheld the complaint, finding that Ms Newchurch had been subjected to unfavourable treatment because of her race. The treatment involved derogatory comments towards Ms Newchurch on the basis of her race, which, ‘[impaired] Ms Newchurch’s equality of opportunity to enjoy just and favourable conditions in a comfortable, inclusive and supported work environment where she felt secure and valued’.

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