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Abstract from

Managing Work and Family in the 'Shadow" of Anti-discrimination Law

Sara Charlesworth is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University, Melbourne.

There is now increasing attention paid to a developing ‘work and family’ case law in the Australian industrial and anti-discrimination jurisdictions. However, very few grievances are ever pursued to a formal tribunal or court hearing. Drawing on complaints lodged with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission under the Equal Oppor­tunity Act 1995 (Vic), this chapter considers the ways in which dis­crimination against workers with family responsibilities is manifested and understood in the workplace. The context of these complaints, including workplace understandings of what constitutes discrimination against workers with family responsibilities and the gendered organisational structures and cultures in which such under­standings are negotiated, is also explored. The chapter conclu­des that prospects for more effective protection of workers with family responsibilities are limited unless the organisation of work around the unencumbered ‘ideal worker’ can be comprehensively challenged.

(2005) Volume 23 No 1 Law in Context 88

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