ANZ has rejected a recommendation by Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs to apologise to a man it refused to hire because of his conviction for an armed robbery offence and subsequent five-year jail sentence.
The man, referred to as Mr AN in Professor Triggs’s report to protect his privacy, complained that the bank had discriminated against him on the basis of his criminal record.
However, AN warranted that he had no former criminal convictions when labour-hire company Robert Walters secured him a position at the ANZ in 2013.
When a criminal check disclosed the 1979 prior conviction, AN told a consultant for Robert Walters he had grown up in a rough neighbourhood in Brisbane and fallen in with the wrong crowd. He served 13 months of the five-year sentence.
AN also defended his suitability for the position after finding an email on networking site LinkedIn for an ANZ program director who had interviewed him for the job.
ANZ withdrew the job offer, citing the conviction and false warranty as reasons.
Professor Triggs noted AN was highly qualified, had no subsequent convictions, received the National Emergency Medal for services as a firefighter during the Black Saturday bushfire disaster and had been only 21 years old when the offence occurred.
“It is difficult to see what more Mr AN could have done to rehabilitate himself,” she said. “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 consider that ANZ’s decision not to engage Mr AN constituted discrimination.”
Professor Triggs recommended ANZ update its anti-discrimination policies and make a “formal written apology” to AN for its “discriminatory conduct”.
In response, ANZ said it would conduct “refresher training” with recruitment workers but explicitly rejected giving an apology.
“ANZ respectfully declines to provide a formal written apology to Mr AN,” it said.
ANZ justified the refusal by saying AN had not disclosed his criminal record when required and said he had provided conflicting information on his reasons.
It also argued AN’s conviction meant he could not fulfil the requirements of the role.