BULLYING CAN BE DISGUISED AS DISCRIMINATION
Telling your story is the best place to start. At Anderson Gray, we’ve helped many people who have been discriminated against in the workplace.
Discrimination law in Victoria is regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Australia wide) and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic). In Victoria it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a personal characteristic that you have, or someone assumes that you have. These personal characteristics are things like age, race, disability, physical features and political beliefs
So if you believe that you have been treated less favourably (than someone without this characteristic) at work because of one or more of the attributes listed below, then you may have been discriminated against at work and you may be able to take legal action to prevent such treatment in the future.
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If you think you’ve been discriminated against or you have been sexually harassed at work, then please contact us at Anderson Gray Lawyers for a confidential, no obligation discussion about your situation.
The list of identifiable attributes as provided by the Victorian legislation include:
- 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;
- race (includes colour, descent, ethnic origin, and nationality or national origin);
- relationship status (whether a person is single, married, married but separated, divorced, widowed, de facto partner, or civil partner);
- religious belief or activity (includes not holding a religious belief, and not engaging in lawful religious activity);
- 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 be aware that there are some exemptions that apply and therefore careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged discrimination needs to be undertaken before a complaint is made.
The law gives you 12 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory act to file a discrimination complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in Melbourne. Once a complaint is made, the Board will arrange a conference to see if the matter can be resolved prior to formal proceedings commencing.
You can instruct us to prepare your complaint regardless of whether you are in Melbourne or regional Victoria as most instructions can be taken by telephone and details confirmed by email.
Alternatively, applications for discrimination can also be commenced in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 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.
It is important to remember that you do not have to be fired from your job to lodge a complaint for discrimination. The discrimination may have occurred in the past, or be ongoing, and may not relate to something as straight forward as losing your job.
Discrimination complaints can be finalised in a number of ways, but some of the remedies you may be able to ask for include:
- financial compensation – there is no limit on compensation values, although relevant cases are used by the court and commission as a guide to decide a reasonable amount;
- an apology;
- re-training for particular employees; and/or
- a review of your employer’s policies and procedures.