Gay audits risk breach of human rights legislation

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Employers that ask staff whether they are gay, to comply with new lawsoutlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, risk breachinghuman rights and privacy laws. Many organisations are considering gay ‘audits’ to try to avoid compensationclaims for discrimination under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation)Regulations, which come into force on 1 December. Conciliation service Acas has released draft guidance which states‘organisations may wish to consider whether to ask a question about sexualorientation on their equal opportunities questionnaire’. However, Hazel Oliver, employment law expert at law firm Lewis Silkin,warned that collecting information on sexual orientation could breach the HumanRights Act 1998. She added that such questions could also qualify as theprocessing of sensitive personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998, whichrequires consent from staff. She said asking questions about sexual discrimination is contrary to thespirit of the new laws, which don’t require staff to reveal their sexualorientation, even in order to make a claim. “Claims can be made for discriminatory treatment based on anindividual’s perceived sexual orientation, without them needing to revealwhether that perception is correct,” she added. “The anonymous collection of information on a voluntary basis may bejustifiable if it is done to monitor the make-up of the workforce, and to checkfor any under-representation of a particular group or statistical evidence ofdiscrimination.” Frank Howell, director of diversity at merchant bank JP Morgan, said thefirm asks its staff about their sexual orientation as part of its staffsatisfaction survey, and to help create a picture of the culture of thebusiness. He added that the survey was anonymous, and had the backing of JP Morgan’sgay networking group, Pride. By Michael Millar Gay audits risk breach of human rights legislationOn 2 Sep 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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