A Canberra man has successfully sued the ACT Government for more than $46,000 after he was refused a car sales licence because of two prior road rage convictions.
- A disputes tribunal found the ACT Government had discriminated against the man
- The man successfully argued his two criminal convictions were “irrelevant” in his application to sell cars
- The tribunal ruled that the Discrimination Act prevented a person’s criminal history from “hounding” them for life or keeping them out of employment
Last week the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) found the ACT Commissioner for Fair Trading had discriminated against the man when they rejected his application for a motor vehicles sales licence in 2018.
The would-be car salesman successfully argued two “irrelevant” criminal convictions were used as basis to reject his application, which he said led to financial and emotional distress.
Road rage incidents
ACAT heard the man had applied for the licence in 2018, but two separate criminal convictions for property damage and assault showed up during a police record check.
The tribunal heard first offence took place in 2016 when the man hurled a small sledgehammer through the front windscreen of another driver’s vehicle during a road rage incident.
The second conviction was from an incident two months later where the man spat in another driver’s face during a dispute, resulting in a good behaviour bond.
ACAT heard Access Canberra staff asked the man for a personal statement to explain the offending.
The man told government staff in an email that he suffered from a permanent back injury and had suffered a deterioration in his mental and physical health in the lead up to the incidents.
“As I reflect on the events and how I handled them, my only option at the time was to hang on to what I could as I embarked through this storm.”
‘Blinded by ego’
The man also claimed he had been “blinded by ego and pride” and had since addressed his behaviour.
“I am no longer the invincible young brave man I used to be,” he told Access Canberra staff.
“But the hardest battle for me has been to not allow the negative notions of the subsequent criminal records imposed on me to affect me mentally.
ACAT heard after discovering the man’s criminal record, the Commissioner for Fair Trading refused the man’s application due to the seriousness and “nature” of his previous offending.
Senior ACAT Member Heidi Robinson found that amounted to discrimination, and awarded the man $46,766 in damages.
“The intention of the amendments to the Discrimination Act are clear: a person’s criminal conviction should not ‘hound’ them for their whole life, keep them out of employment, or cause them to be subject to discrimination,” she wrote in her decision.
The government was also warned not to reject any of the man’s future applications based on his criminal convictions.
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