GET Releases First Annual Report

Members of and the Secretary to the Gender Equality Tribunal meet with the Honourable Minister for Education, Employment and Gender Affairs (L-R: back row - member Shaun Cockle, member Karie Bergstrom, Secretary Aubrey Bodden, member André Ebanks; front row - member Tammy Ebanks, Hon. Minister Tara Rivers, Chairperson Sheridan Brooks-Hurst) (Photo: Janice MacLean, GIS Marketing & Communications)

The Gender Equality Tribunal (GET) has released its first Annual Report, providing a summary of operations during the 2012/13 financial year. Three discrimination complaints have been received since the Gender Equality Law, 2011 came into effect on 31st January 2012 and the GET has also produced a complaint form, Frequently Asked Questions and comprehensive Policies and Procedures manual to assist the general public and parties to discrimination complaints in understanding the GET’s remit and the complaint process.

The Honourable Minister for Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, Tara Rivers, received the Annual Report from the GET, stating: “On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank all of the members for their dedication to serving on the Tribunal and for providing their time and expertise to promote gender equality in the Cayman Islands.”

The Gender Equality Law prohibits discrimination in employment, training and recruitment on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy and gender. It also prohibits unequal treatment in other related areas - such as access to goods, services and facilities and in professional partnerships, qualifying and vocational training bodies and employment agencies - and addresses issues of pay discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. The GET has been set up to hear and determine complaints from any person who has reason to believe discrimination has occurred or is occurring.

Chairperson Sheridan Brooks-Hurst stated: “The GET has now adopted the policies and procedures required for effective functioning of the complaints process under the Gender Equality Law. We encourage members of the general public, as well as employers, to learn about their rights and responsibilities under the Law and how a complaint can be made to the GET, which is established to be accessible and independent in its activities.”

The first discrimination complaint received by the GET was heard and determined in May, and the second complaint is currently in the hearing stage. The GET publishes summarised versions of each of its decisions at www.genderequality.gov.ky.

The GET has an important function in arbitrating complaints, as members are experts in their respective fields and bring diverse perspectives to hear and determine allegations of discrimination. They also have the powers necessary to effectively carry out this function and enforce appropriate sanctions for those who break the Law, as well as those who would seek to abuse the complaints process by bringing frivolous or vexatious claims.

The Honourable Minister noted: “The Gender Equality Law is an important piece of legislation, as it protects men and women from unequal treatment and harassment in the workplace, recruitment practices and other settings. Discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or gender is illegal, and I encourage those who have been discriminated against to take the necessary actions to bring their complaints to the GET.”

The GET receives administrative and secretarial support from the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs. More information about the Gender Equality Law, GET and other matters is available online at www.genderequality.gov.ky and any inquiries can be directed to the Secretary to the GET, Aubrey Bodden, by email to get@gov.ky, by phone at 244-3226, or in person by setting up an appointment at the Government Administration Building.