An employment lawyer says Collingwood’s concerns that Adam Treloar’s family circumstances might have impacted his ability to play football are unfair and potentially discriminatory.
- Adam Treloar’s partner, netballer Kim Ravaillion, is moving to Queensland because of her netball career
- Nathan Buckley said Collingwood was concerned how being in a long-distance relationship would affect Treloar’s wellbeing
- Giri Sivaraman says Collingwood’s approach would not be appropriate in any other workplace
Treloar was one of four Magpies players forced to find new clubs on a frenetic final day of the AFL’s trade period last week, as Collingwood tried to release pressure on its salary cap.
Despite having five years remaining on his contract, there had been intense speculation about Treloar’s future, after his partner Kim Ravaillion announced she was moving to Queensland with their infant daughter to continue her Super Netball career.
Ravaillion is rejoining the Queensland Firebirds — where she won two premierships prior to the start of Super Netball — in 2021 after three seasons with Collingwood.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told SEN radio on Monday that Treloar’s family situation was “a catalyst in some shape or form” for the club’s decision to considering trading the midfielder to another club.
Buckley said there was no way Treloar’s split from Collingwood could have been done “without trauma or pain”.
Giri Sivaraman, an employment lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said Collingwood’s approach was not fair to Treloar.
“I’m very surprised,” he told the ABC.
“Effectively what he seems to be saying is: ‘We can’t keep you here because you might at some point have to support your wife, and or your child, and we can’t accommodate that.’
“Firstly, I wonder if that’s discrimination on the basis of carer responsibilities, and secondly, I think it’s just asking too much of someone. Whether it’s discriminatory or not, it certainly seems unfair.”
Mr Sivaraman said every employer had an obligation to accommodate carer responsibilities, and Collingwood’s approach would not be appropriate in any other workplace.
“There’s not even been an attempt to accommodate it here,” he said.
“They’ve just made the assumption that because his partner is moving interstate — just for the netball season I assume — that that’s just something they can’t accommodate.
“It’s like saying to someone who’s pregnant: ‘Well, even though you’ve said to me when you come back to work that you’ll be able to manage your job and care responsibilities, I just think you won’t be able to, therefore I’m not going to have a job for you when you come back.’
“Many women I’ve represented have been in that position and I’ve always said it’s unlawful.”
Buckley said it was Collingwood’s responsibility to work out how Treloar’s family situation would affect his job.
“We are within our rights to have an assessment of that given our knowledge of Adam and the experiences we’ve shared since he came to the club,” Buckley said, alluding to Treloar’s history of anxiety.
Mr Sivaraman said under workplace law employers also had an obligation to attempt to accommodate an employees’ mental or physical impairments.
“[Collingwood] has taken a different approach and decided, well it’s just not going to work and we don’t want what they perceive as a liability,” he said.
“I just think that’s disappointing.”
Mr Sivaraman said the management of Treloar and his family exemplifies how AFL clubs demanded a player’s “mind, body and soul”.
He said that ran counter to the general treatment expected from employers in 2020.
“What this year has shown us is that things that weren’t thought possible certainly are,” he said.
“The number of flexible work arrangements has stratospherically increased.”
Pies players treated ‘too good’: McGuire
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire rejected criticism the club had mistreated players it had traded.
“If there’s a criticism of what Collingwood did with its players in recent times it’s that they’ve looked after players too good as far as the salary cap was concerned,” McGuire told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast radio program.
“And the players have been sensational back-ending their contracts to make it happen because there was a window of opportunity [for a flag].”
McGuire suggested the fallout over the Magpies’ trading period was a media beat-up.
“It’s a big story because the other stories have been done to death for 10 days and Collingwood didn’t do a whole lot on (AFL) Trade Radio and things like that,” he said.
“The media always like to come after people who aren’t racing to be on those types of things.
“Nuance is everything. We could’ve gone on with the salary cap, so it wasn’t as if it was a fire sale. We changed, we pivoted and we’re looking ahead.”