BULLYING CAN BE DISGUISED AS DISCRIMINATION

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At Anderson Gray, we’ve helped many people who have been discriminated against in the workplace.

DISCRIMINATION

Discrimination law in Australia is regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and various State based laws and regulations. Generally speaking, these rules apply the same way regardless of which State you live in.

WHAT IS DISCRIMINATION?

Broadly speaking, discrimination is less favourable treatment of a person because of a particular characteristic or “identifiable attribute”.

Put another way, if you are treated less favourably (than someone without your identifiable attribute) in the workplace because of one or more of the following attributes, then you will have been discriminated against at work.

The list of identifiable attributes generally includes:

  • age;
  • breastfeeding;
  • family responsibilities (responsibility to care for or support a child or other member of immediate family);
  • gender identity (a person identifies as a member of the opposite sex, or is of indeterminate sex and seeks to live as a member of a particular sex);
  • impairment (covers most physical and psychological conditions, and includes reliance of a guide, hearing, or assistance dog, wheelchair or other remedial device, as well as present and past impairments);
  • lawful sexual activity (a person’s status as a lawfully employed sex worker, whether or not self-employed);
  • parental status (includes being a step-parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, or guardian);
  • political belief or activity;
  • pregnancy;
  • race (includes colour, descent, ethnic origin, and nationality or national origin);
  • religious belief or activity (includes not holding a religious belief, and not engaging in lawful religious activity);
  • sex;
  • sexualiity (heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality);
  • trade union activity;
  • association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes;

Please note that some exemptions can apply and so careful consideration of the facts of the alleged discrimination needs to be undertaken before a complaint is filed.

What happens if I have a genuine complaint?

The first steps will depend on which state you live in but will generally involve an application or complaint being made to your State’s anti-discrimination body. There are usually time limits that apply to making this application. Once that application is made the relevant body will provide an opportunity for your case to be heard and attempt to achieve a resolution between you and your employer.

Alternatively, applications for discrimination can also be commenced in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) or the Fair Work Commission and ultimately be determined by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Please note that different time limits apply – for example, a complaint to the AHRC, should be made within 6 months of the date of the discriminatory conduct.

And remember – you don’t have to be dismissed from work to commence a claim for discrimination.

How is it resolved?

Discrimination complaints can be resolved in many ways, but some of the solutions provided may include:

  1. compensation – there is no cap on compensation claims, although relevant case law is used by the court and commission to determine an appropriate amount of compensation;
  2. an apology;
  3. re-training for specified employees; and/or
  4. a review of policies and procedures.

Ready to tell us your story?

If you think you’ve been discriminated against at work, then please contact us at Anderson Gray Lawyers for a confidential, no obligation discussion about your situation.

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