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President reports on Johansson v Masonic Homes Inc [2014] AusHRC 65

Legal Legal

The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has found that Ms Edda Johansson was discriminated against by Masonic Homes Inc on the basis of her criminal record.

In December 2010, Ms Johansson applied for and was offered employment as an administrative officer with Masonic Homes, an aged care facility. This offer of employment was withdrawn following receipt of her criminal record. Ms Johansson has a criminal record dating from 1998 to 2001. It relates to obtaining prescription drugs illegally at a time when she had an addiction to prescription painkillers.

Masonic Homes denies that the decision to withdraw the offer of employment constitutes discrimination in employment. Masonic Homes submits that the decision was based on Ms Johansson’s inability to perform the inherent requirements of the job. Masonic Homes stated that in light of its responsibilities for elderly clients, the highest standard of integrity and to be of good character and reputation were inherent requirements of the role of administrative officer.

Professor Triggs accepted that these requirements were inherent requirements of the role of an administrative officer at Masonic Homes. However, Professor Triggs was not satisfied that the exclusion of Ms Johansson was based on these inherent requirements. In reaching this conclusion, the President found the following factors persuasive:

  • Ms Johansson’s offences were nearly ten years old at the relevant time.
  • Ms Johansson’s offences occurred during a difficult time for her personally which led to her prescription drug addiction and the relevant offences.
  • Since the period of offending, Ms Johansson has successfully completed a university degree and held employment with a number of employers which involved handling large sums of money. There is no suggestion that she was not found to be trustworthy in these workplaces.

Professor Triggs was not satisfied that Ms Johansson was unable to perform the inherent requirements of the role of administrative officer.

Professor Triggs recommended that compensation in the amount of $11,155 be paid to Ms Johansson for hurt, humiliation and distress, and economic loss.

As this decision can be reviewed under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth), this is the only statement the Commission will be making on this matter.

A copy of this report: Johansson v Masonic Homes Inc is available online at http://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/johansson-v-masonic-homes-inc.

Media contact: Sarah Bamford (02) 9284 9758 or 0417 957 525.