A woman from Brisbane has lost her job after being found in an online polyamorous community. Her Catholic Church employer reasoned it was because it tarnished the organisation’s reputation.
I’m going to go ahead and say that what someone does in their bedroom, what their sexual orientation is and how they manage their love life has got to come down to personal choice and has nothing to do with an employer. Firstly, it’s sexual discrimination and, secondly, it’s called private life for a reason.
But what about when that private life is made public? What if your sexual preferences are put into the social sphere? And it turns out that they contradict the company you’re actually working for? Brisbane woman, Susan Bunning, has taken her Catholic Church employer to court following the termination of her role after they discovered she was part of a polyamorous online community.
Bunning had worked for the company for six years before she was approached by her employers at Centacare, who had discovered her listing on the polyamorous community group.
The group, which is called Brisbane Poly People, describes themselves as a “social and discussion group based in Brisbane for all who are interested in open relationships, polyamory, and the varied alternatives to monogamy.”
The federal court was informed by Centacare that Bunning had been accused of gross misconduct, breaching the company’s code of conduct and bringing it into disrepute.
As well as taking a discrimination complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, Bunning also took it to the high court, but to no avail, with Judge Salvator Vesta saying being polyamorous is not a sexual orientation but rather a behaviour. And, unfortunately, that behaviour doesn’t align with the Catholic Church’s values.
But other than being potentially recognised in the polyamorous community, would her behaviour affect her job at all? Surely there are people who are employed by Centacare who also don’t align with the Catholic Church’s code of ethics. For example, people who engage in sex before marriage and have children out of wedlock. It’s a wonder whether they, too, will be at a risk of losing their jobs.
While there are reportedly no figures about how many people in Australia identify themselves as polyamorous, in the U.S., figures indicate that close to half a million people are polyamorous.
There are, however, a variety of sites for people who identify themselves as polyamorous in Australia, including Meetup groups and websites like Polyfidelity, which connects polyamorous people in regional Australia and describes polyamory as “the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person at a time with honesty and integrity.”
What do you think? Should she have been dismissed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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