New law to halt all forms of discrimination in the workplace
The legal fight against prejudice in Barbados will begin in the workplace with a new law that will allow punishment for all types of discrimination, including singling out homosexuals on the job.
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer made the revelation yesterday evening as she said new legislation is in the works to halt all forms of discrimination at places of employment, as a starting point for eradicating prejudice in society.
She made special mention of sexual orientation.“I am not sanctioning same sex unions and homosexuality. That is not what this legislation is supposed to do. What this legislation is saying is that if somebody in your workplace is homosexual we should not be discriminating against them on the grounds that they are homosexual,” Byer told a Christ is the Answer Family Church discussion at the Alexandra School.
“It is also gender neutral . . . It is the same for men as it is for women, so whether it is a man discriminating against a woman or a woman discriminating a man, it will hold.”Byer said the Anti-Discrimination in the Workplace Act will be the frontrunner for a raft of new legislation on labour and labour relations that Government plans taking to Parliament.
“We are just tidying it up. I hope we are on the last draft,” she said.
Some of the other proposed new pieces of legislation, which will call for repeal of the current laws, include a Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act, a Shops Act, a Minimum Wages Board Act, and a Holidays with Pay Act.
“There is a lot that we want to see happen in our society when it comes to discrimination . . . It is going to take, I believe, another 10 years before we get broad-based anti-discrimination legislation but what my ministry decided to do is to introduce the legislation in the workplace,” she said.
“We [have to] start to change the thinking, the mindset of individuals . . . because if we have to wait until we can pass general legislation to get anti-discrimination legislation in the workplace, it’s going to be a very long time coming.”
Byer said that the labour unions and employers had some input in the pending Anti-Discrimination in the Workplace Act.