Human Rights staff Graham Robinson and Darnell Havey are handling an increased work load due to the recession. <em>*Photo by Kageaki Smith</em>
Human Rights staff Graham Robinson and Darnell Havey are handling an increased work load due to the recession. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, DEC. 16: The economic recession could be to blame for an increase in the number of complaints received by the Human Rights Commission.

The extra pressure on employers as well as workers may have fuelled the rise according to the Commission’s executive officer Lisa Lister.

Ms Lister told the Sun investigators had noticed a correlation between the current economic climate and more people claiming they have been discriminated against in the workplace.

And she believes that some islander’s misunderstanding of what their rights are was also a contributing factor.

She added: “The majority of the complaints we have received over the last two years have been claims of discrimination in the workplace.

“There have also been some complaints of sexual harassment but that is less common.

“I suspect there is a correlation between the pressures that businesses face and possibly how employees feel they are treated.

“This does not mean that people are being discriminated against in all cases.

“The state of the economy and these pressures may bring out a side of us that feels hard done by.”

The Commission has marked its 30th anniversary this year since it was first established in 1981.

Its original workforce of just three has grown considerably since then.

These days there are three investigators working on a range of complaints that received by the Commission every day.

The Commission receives around 400 complaints from people who believe they have been discriminated against every year.

There are currently 16 active investigations being pursued by the staff.

Last year four of its investigations have resulted in the complaints going before a Board of Inquiry.

The board, which is empanelled at the instruction of Minister Glenn Blakeney, has the power to fine organizations as well as award complainant’s money.

Ms Lister said: “We receive a number of complaints that do not come with in the remit of the Human Rights Act.

“One of the reasons for this is because many people do not really understand what their rights are and we are trying to improve this through our education programme.

“But this also means we work closely with other agencies and if a complaint is more suited to their area of expertise we will send that individual to the agency that is best able to assist them.”