ANZ 'respectfully declines' Human Rights Commissioner's request

The big-name bank caused controversy in Australia after refusing the Human Rights Commission’s recommended remedy for the ‘hurt and suffering’ it caused a job candidate, who failed to disclose an armed robbery conviction.

ANZ 'respectfully declines' Human Rights Commissioner's request
ANZ has ignored the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission and refused to apologise after rescinding a job offer following the discovery of the candidate’s criminal record.

The candidate – known only as Mr AN – alleged that the banking giant had discriminated against him in its decision not to hire him on the basis of an armed robbery conviction from 1978.

In the report, handed down by Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, ANZ admitted that AN’s criminal history was the reason behind the withdrawal of the offer. The bank also said that his failure to disclose his conviction to the company contributed to the decision.

“I consider that ANZ's decision not to engage Mr AN constitutes discrimination,” the Commissioner said in the report.

Fortunately for the bank, AN did not seek compensation, and the remedy suggested by the Commissioner was a written apology from ANZ as well as an internal review of the bank’s policies and procedures.

A spokeswoman for ANZ told HRM that the nature of the offence was behind the bank’s decision not to provide the written apology.

“While ANZ has made some changes to policies and training as a result of the President’s findings and recommendations, we have respectfully declined to provide an apology to Mr AN,” she explained. “Due to the violent and serious nature of the offence, ANZ maintains Mr AN could not fulfil the inherent requirements of the role, which included that he act in accordance with ANZ’s Code of Conduct and display honesty and integrity.

“It should be noted Mr AN did not disclose his criminal record when asked to do so during the recruitment process, and since making his complaint has provided conflicting information about the reason for this non-disclosure.

“We also don’t think it’s appropriate that a person convicted of a violent armed robbery work in a bank.”

According to the report, AN interviewed for the role of IT project manager in June 2013, and was later selected for the position.

Documents revealed that AN then signed a form, in which he agreed that he “had not been convicted of a criminal offence anywhere in the world and acknowledged that ANZ may obtain a police clearance check to validate this”.

Several days later, AN was questioned by a recruitment consultant about his undisclosed conviction.

While the Commissioner acknowledged that AN was in the wrong for failing to provide this information, she stated that he had given an explanation for his decision not to do so.

“There is no doubt that the offence which Mr AN was convicted of was a serious offence,” the Commissioner said. “However, the offence occurred in 1978, more than 35 years ago. This offence was Mr AN's only offence and he has had no subsequent convictions.

“Mr AN was 21 years old at the time of the offence. He has provided some context around the offence stating that he had ‘fallen in with the wrong crowd’.

She acknowledged AN’s voluntary services and long-term employment history which included several senior management roles.

“It is difficult to see what more Mr AN could have done to rehabilitate himself,” the Commissioner continued. “With these factors in mind, I am not persuaded that there is a sufficiently tight or close correlation between the inherent requirement of the Position and the exclusion of Mr AN. I am not persuaded that Mr AN was unable to perform the inherent requirements of the Position.”

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD New Zealand.

Recent articles & video

Is it impossible to overcome hiring bias?

Criminal activity outside of work: What HR needs to know

How to handle a toxic, yet talented, employee

Why do many senior managers distrust big data?

Most Read Articles

How to handle a toxic, yet talented, employee

Religion, rugby and contracts

The enigma of employee satisfaction