Bell and Co. Discuss Types of Employment and Workplace Discrimination

Friday 22 February 2019, 6:46PM
By Beckie Wright

Discrimination can take on many different forms. Section 21 of the Human Rights Act 1993 details an extensive list of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. For example: people cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, religious beliefs, race or age. From an employment law perspective, it is important to note the areas where discrimination can occur and how it is interpreted.

Discrimination that occurs prior to employment comes within the Human Rights Act. This means that discrimination will occur where an applicant is refused employment based on a discriminating factor. A personal grievance claim for discrimination during employment can be brought under the Employment Relations Act 2000 (as well as the Human Rights Act).

There are many pre-employment processes that employers conduct that need to remain neutral. When advertising for employees, there needs to be a clear description of the qualities that are being looked for. It is important to state essential skills that align with the job vacancy and to not overstate qualities needed. It is also important for the employer to be aware of medical conditions that may be relevant to employment, so that they can assess whether they can make provisions to accommodate the applicant or whether the medical condition will prevent the applicant from carrying out their work safely.

Employers must not use a discriminating factor as a reason to dismiss an employee. This is largely seen through cases relating to religious belief. In

Nakarawa v AFFCO, Nakarawa requested not to work on Saturdays as he wanted to observe that Sabbath day. This meant that he would not work from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. He was dismissed as it was deemed to be unacceptable to not work on Saturday.

The Human Rights Act sets out that employment cannot be terminated by reason of a discriminating factor where another employee employed by the same employer on work of that description would not be dismissed. It was held that an adequate comparator was those in the same circumstances who do not hold religious beliefs. The discriminating factor must play no part in the decision to dismiss. It was held that the employee was dismissed by reason of religious beliefs, not because he couldn’t work on Saturdays.

It is evident that discrimination can occur in a vast range of situations. In a world of such diversity, employers need to be aware of their conduct and treat every applicant and employee equally, so for more information on family lawyers Wellington, employment lawyers, child custody lawyers and family divorce lawyers please go to .