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Through out the years there have been many factors that affect the operation of the legal system to help generate just outcomes for women. Historically, women have always held an inferior place to men, but during the 20 th century this concept has changed considerably. The status of women has changed in terms of political suffrage, jury duty, economic rights, property rights, social security and minority groups. However, women still suffer disadvantages and to try to resolve particular problems women still confront legal and non-legal mechanisms.
The mechanisms are used to resolve political and economic equality in accessing education, training development, gaining promotion, equal pay and sexual harassment. The legal and non-legal mechanism include trade unions, lobby groups, welfare groups and government agencies. Affirmative action and anti-discrimination legislation are also used to try to eliminate women being discriminated against and ensure just outcomes for the individual. Womens status under Australian law has changed considerably. Traditionally women have been child careers and homemakers with little activity or influence in public matters.
Women are still often cast into these roles, although they now have far greater freedom to adopt other roles, such as working for an income. In the current workplace women face many challenges and problems. In terms of legal protection women have been offered more opportunities for success that previously, but the attitudes of some parts of society still act to constrain women in the workplace. There have been several responses regarding the problems that women have faced in the workplace. The legal response has been to create laws that seek to protect women by making certain action illegal and requiring that employers behave in certain ways.
Non-legal responses include trade unions education, training schemes and the training guarantee. However the extent the effectiveness of the non-legal and legal mechanisms have to generate just outcomes, has not yet fully been utilised. The workplace is still dominated by gender bias. The human rights and equal opportunity commission (HREOC) defines it as the belief that there exist unwritten language in the law which favours males over females. It suggests that the law has been created by males and to a large degree excludes women and their experiences.
In doing so the legal system does not adequately deal with the needs of women because it does not understand them. Sexual discrimination is another concern for women. It is defined by the HREOC as being treated unfairly because of your sex or marital status or because you are pregnant or potentially pregnant. There are two forms of sex discrimination, Direct and Indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when someone acts directly to treat someone else differently because of their membership in a particular group in society and Indirect discrimination occurs when an action is taken which results in one group in society being treated less favourable than another. Direct and indirect discrimination against women occurs in the workplace and in many ares of everyday life.
Women are more likely to be victims of indirect discrimination than men are. An article recently published in the law society journal depicts the unsavoury, and quite appalling circumstances that have resulted in everyday working women formal ising complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act (Cth) 1984, Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) 1977 and The Human Rights and equal Opportunities Commission Act (Cth) 1986. Unfortunately this case study provides a realistic insight into the working lives of what some women go through, in this case study a young women, Ms Osborne was employed by a small recreational club to undertake a variety of tasks including her work, poker machine pay outs and table service. She stated that during that period of employment the club discriminated against her on grounds of her sex and pregnancy, and that she had also been sexually harassed. Ms Osborne said that she had made an internal complaint of sexual harassment, which resulted in her being victimized. She said the victimisation consisted of a denial of further work after the birth of her child, even though she had been employed with the club as a casual for over 18 months prior to the birth.
Ms Osborne's sexual harassment complaint was against two club officials. She stated they made comments such as come back to my place for some sex and your tits are getting bigger. Hows about a root. Ms Osborne said that one of the officials had touched her stomach without permission when she was well into her pregnancy. Her internal complaint to her supervisor resulted in verbal apologies from the two officials and at the time Ms Osborne was satisfied with the resolution. She subsequently became disgruntled however, believing that her shifts were reduced as a mean of retaliation for having made the internal sexual harassment complaint.
Ms Osborne stated her supervisor asked when she intended to stop working and commented it doesnt look very nice with you doing table service while you are pregnant. Due to the reduction in her shifts Ms Osborne left work four weeks earlier than planned. Claiming that she had always intended to return to work after the birth of her baby, Ms Osborne attempted to regain work with the club on a number of occasions. She was told there was no work available. The employer argued that Ms Osborne had requested a reduction in her hours because she was having difficulty coping with the workload as well as attending family responsibilities during her advancing pregnancy, and that she finally resigned from her position and left of her own free will.
The employer further argued that all issues to do with the sexual harassment complaint were satisfactorily resolved at the time and that no victimisation occurred as a result of her complaint. Finally Ms Osborne's supervisor denied making comments about the pregnancy. Ms Osborne lodged a complaint under the federal Sex Discrimination Act. The matter was settled with an amount of $ 7, 500 paid to Ms Osborne and the provision of a written work reference. This case study shows the different ways in which women are treated differently in the work force. The average weekly earnings for a full-time male employee $ 847. 60, compared to $ 712. 20 for women.
Not only that but, Sexual Harassment and sexual Discrimination remains the most common grounds of complaint under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, with 84 % of complainants being female. These facts prove that women have not yet been seen as equal to that of men in the workforce. A workplace free of sex discrimination and sexual Harassment is a human right. Anyone directly affected by discrimination had the right to complain, according to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC). There are three stages that a complaint must go through; the process is private, confidential and free. Firstly enquires are made and if the commission decides that the complaint comes within the terms of the SDA (or under the other responsibilities of the commission) an investigation will follow, this is to prove that discrimination has occurred.
The investigation will attempt to determine what happened and if there is enough evidence to support the complaint, an attempt at a conciliation will occur. If the complaint cannot be conciliated then the complainant may then apply to the federal court of Australia to have the original allegation heard and determined. The decision of the federal Court is legally binding. Sexual Harassment is a major problem for women in the workforce. It is defined as an unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favours or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Many women who have suffered from sexual harassment in the workplace have received compensation under the sex discrimination Act.
In the Hill V Water Resources Commission (1985) case, the principle of a vicarious liability of employers in talking responsibility for the actions of the some employees, was established. In a case...
Free research essays on topics related to: anti discrimination, indirect discrimination, discrimination act, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination
Research essay sample on Sexual Harassment Indirect Discrimination