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Discrimination at Work

What is workplace discrimination?

Discrimination in the workplace is when one person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than others because of their:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • National or ethnic group
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy/breastfeeding
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Religion
  • Sexual preference
  • Transgender status
  • Trade union activity
  • Family or career responsibilities
  • Political opinion

Workplace discrimination is illegal in Australia. Discrimination can occur in many different aspects of employment including who is hired for a job, conditions and benefits offered as part of a job, who receives training, who receives a raise or promotion and who is retrenched or dismissed.

For more information check out the Australian Human Rights Commission, Fairwork and Lawstuff websites. Workplace bullying and harassment are also illegal, read this post to find out more.

Here is short example of what discrimination might look like in the workplace:

Sally applies for a job stacking shelves at the local supermarket. She gets an interview for the position. During the interview the manager tells her he won’t hire her for the job because she is a girl and won’t be able to lift heavy objects. This is discrimination based on Sally’s sex.

What do I do if I’m being discriminated against?

If you think you are being discriminated against, you should try to resolve the issue within the organisation first. Try talking to a complaints or grievances officer, a HR officer or your boss or manager to resolve the problem. You can also talk to your trade union for advice.

If the problem is not resolved you can call the Fairwork Ombudsman on 13 13 94 for advice or to make a complaint. You may be able to lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, you can call them on 1300 369 711 for advice.