Discrimination in the Workplace

Workplace discrimination is discrimination in the hiring, terms and conditions of employment, promotion or dismissal of employees. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of, among other things, the employee’s race, sex disability, sexuality or age.

It might surprise you to know, however, that sometimes employers are allowed to discriminate against who they employ, or the conditions they employ someone under.

Workplace discrimination is allowed in some situations if it relates to a necessary requirement of a job (such as if you are applying for a pizza delivery job, they can discriminate against your application if you are too young to have a driver’s licence), or if an employer is assisting someone with specific needs (such as allowing an employee to have additional breaks to take medication).  An employer can also hold an exemption, which allows them to discriminate under certain conditions.

If you think unlawful discrimination is happening in your workplace, you should try to address the issues by speaking to your supervisor or human resources manager.  There may be processes already in place in the workplace to deal with issues of discrimination, such as an anti-discrimination policy or a complaints procedure.

If you feel that there is no alternative avenue, then advice can be sought from Fair Work or you can contact the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.  Claims of discrimination can be lodged with the Anti-Discrimination Commission within 12 months of discrimination occurring.

If unlawful discrimination occurs, (check if it is unlawful) and as a result of that discrimination the employer has caused the employee to suffer some form of disadvantage such as not being promoted or being paid less than someone else for the same job, the employee may be able to make a General Protections claim with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

It is always best to seek advice before lodging a complaint.