Victimisation in context of the act
WHEN WE think of victimisation, we often think of it in the workplace context. However, there are other circumstances in which a person may be victimised, some of which are covered by the Equal Opportunity Act Chap 22:03. The act prohibits discrimination of seven protected characteristics in four broad categories – employment, education, provision of goods and services and provision of accommodation.
Generally, victimisation is understood as unfair or unequal treatment of a person compared to how another person is treated, making them feel like a victim. This treatment can stem from an action a person has taken or from an impression that the person took a particular action.
Under the act, victimisation occurs within a specific context. The term is closer in meaning to that of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the English Equality and Human Rights Commission, which states that “victimisation is treating someone badly or unfairly, or threatening to treat someone badly or unfairly, because they have asserted their rights under the law, made a complaint about discrimination or racial and religious vilification, helped someone else make a complaint, or it is believed they intend to make a complaint.”
Therefore, according to the act, victimisation occurs when the person alleging victimisation has:
* Made a complaint against the discriminator or any other person under the act.
* Given evidence or information in connection with legal proceedings brought by any person against the discriminator or any other person or any relevant law.
* Done anything in connection with the act in relation to the discriminator or any other person.
* Stated the discriminator has committed an act which would amount to a contravention of the act or by reason the discriminator knows or suspects the person victimised is going to or will pursue action from the referred points above.
There must be a direct link between what the person did and the subsequent treatment by one’s employer, service provider or organisation.
On the other hand, the act states that unfair treatment would not be considered victimisation if the person in question provided false information and that was given in bad faith. This protects against the possibility of abuse of the legal system for personal gain.
Example of victimisation
under the act and
the exception to the rule
An example of victimisation in the category of education is highlighted below, and an exception to the law is examined:
A teacher denies a student the opportunity to attend a class field trip because the student provided evidence against the teacher and in support of a peer during the investigation of the peer’s discrimination complaint against the teacher. This may be considered victimisation in the context of the Equal Opportunity Act, for which the student may be protected. It can be inferred that there is a direct link between the student being a witness and not being able to attend the class trip.
Conversely, let us say the student held a grudge against the said teacher and, as a result, provided false evidence during the investigation. Subsequently, the student was suspended for a week from school for their action. In this instance, this suspension may not necessarily be deemed as victimisation per the act, as the student acted in bad faith.
If you believe you have been subjected to victimisation, you can lodge a complaint at the EOC via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our website www.equalopportunity.gov.tt.
"Victimisation in context of the act"