In January 2021, BlueScope filed an application under the Equal Opportunities Act 2010 for a temporary exemption to permit the company to employ qualified and skilled female workers over male workers at its Western Port Site. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has now considered BlueScope’s application for a temporary exemption to provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 adhering to Section 3(d).
BlueScope contended that it does not cater to gender-biased recruitment in order to achieve better representation of the female workforce in the community, since their end goal is to employ qualified women workers over qualified men workers.
The company's Westernport Site employs 11.9 percent of female workers at present and is aimed at accomplishing 20 percent of the total workforce to be female.
BlueScope stated that there may be reasonable restrictions on the provision of equal opportunity, resulting in temporary and substantive inequality in order to address a greater cause. The Tribunal heard the many submissions and oppositions on drawbacks - as well as the severe aftereffects of the proposition leading to discrimination and breach of Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities - and concluded that such an exception of temporary inequality could be made.
The Tribunal adhered to the significance of existing gender imbalance and the aim of Bluescope to enhance female representation at the workplace. It was also satisfied that the company had already pursued several less restrictive initiatives in an attempt to increase the proportion of its female employees.
Hence, the Tribunal was satisfied with BluScope's contentions and held that the same is “reasonable and justified” under the Charter and permitted the exemption for a term of three years.
This case exhibits the fact that temporary and substantive exceptions may be granted with reasonable restrictions, to take on practices that would otherwise be considered discriminatory, for the greater good of the society at large.