find the latest legal job
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Arncliffe NSW 2205
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
Senior Property Lawyer I Commercial Litigator
Category: Property Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Rapidly growing law firm, working with a highly experienced team in a high growth industry across all areas of property and strata law
View details
4+ PAE Commercial Lawyer - Contract Role (Maternity cover)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· 4+ years PAE · End-to-end deal carriage
View details
Partners and Senior Specialist Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Australia
· Earn 70% of billings and fixed referral incentives · Full practice flexibility & freedom
View details
Corporate and rights lawyers at loggerheads

Corporate and rights lawyers at loggerheads

An employment law partner said businesses will be spared “speculative” discrimination claims after the Gillard Government shelved its Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, while a peak rights body has claimed the move threatens the Federal human rights framework.

Nick Duggal (pictured), who heads up TressCox Lawyers’ employment and industrial relations practice, told Lawyers Weekly that business owners will breathe a sigh of relief in the wake of Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’ announcement that proposed reforms to anti-discrimination laws will be put on hold.

At a media briefing yesterday (21 March), Dreyfus said the Bill required “deeper consideration” after a Senate Committee received almost 500 submissions in response to the draft legislation from individuals and organisations, including the Law Council of Australia (LCA).

Duggal criticised the Bill’s reversal of the burden of proof to the person accused of discrimination and possible restrictions on behaviour deemed to be ‘offensive’ as “burdensome” and “wholly subjective”.

“The test of what constitutes unfavourable treatment would have been troublesome for employers and I would have anticipated a rise in claims,” he said, nominating gender and age discrimination as areas most likely invite legal action.

Duggal said claims would probably have arisen out of “legitimate disciplinary processes”, such as warnings, demotions or performance-based dismissals.

“If [employees] possess a particular protected attribute they may seek to rely upon that attribute to assert that action taken against them was discrimination, and then the onus then shifts to the employer who has to prove that [the action was taken] for a different reason,” he argued.

The Human Rights Law Centre (HLRC) dismissed the argument as a poor excuse for abandoning the reforms.

Hugh de Kretser, HLRC’s executive director, said the government had already indicated it would remove or amend the Bill’s controversial ‘offence’ clause that caused concern during consultation phase. A minor amendment addressing this point would have been sufficient, he added.

De Kretser claimed the decision to delay the reforms is a failure by the Government to deliver on a key plank of its Human Rights Frameworka suite of reforms introduced in response to a national inquiry in 2009.

“Another pillar of the Government’s human rights framework is under threat, this time at a final critical hurdle after years of work and investment by those working in the discrimination system and representing vulnerable groups,” he said.

“The political reality is the choice to delay these reforms means effectively abandoning their introduction before the election.”

But Duggal believes the Attorney-General has acted appropriately to ensure the proposed legislation respects the interests of both political parties, “rather than push something out on the basis of an election timetable”.

The LCA has also supported the Attorney-General’s decision to delay the reforms. LCA president Joseph Catanzariti said the government had recognised the complexities involved in consolidating the five existing anti-discrimination Acts and the need for further consultation.

Despite the Bill being sent back to the parliamentary drawing board, Dreyfus announced that amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act would be introduced this week to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

“The Government will proceed immediately with the new protection while detailed work continues on consolidating Australia’s anti-discrimination laws,” he said.

The new protections build on the Labor Government’s 2008 reforms to 85 Commonwealth Acts that were considered discriminatory to same-sex couples and their children.

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Corporate and rights lawyers at loggerheads
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Jan 17 2018
Lawyers lash out over latest Dutton attack
A number of legal bodies have condemned federal home affairs minister Peter Dutton’s latest commen...
Car crash, driverless cars
Jan 17 2018
Driverless cars a privacy car crash in the making
The testing of driverless cars on Australian roads has presented a new challenge, with serious conce...
new role with SA judicial appointment, scales of justice
Jan 15 2018
Worker's comp expert takes on new role with SA judicial appointment
An Adelaide barrister has been appointed deputy president of the South Australian Employment Tribuna...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...