Under what circumstances can workplace discrimination constitute a legal claim?

Many of us are aware that we enjoy valuable rights in the workplace as employees. All employees can demand, for example, that they be treated with respect and fairness. It is, and has been for some time, unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any employee. If an employee is in fact discriminated against then they have rights available to them to seek redress.

Discrimination can be either direct or indirect. Discrimination can be on the basis of:

  • Race – that is, a person who is treated unfavourably on the basis of their race, descent, nationality, ethnic origin and/or colour
  • Sex – a person treated unfavourably because of their gender, sexual identity, family responsibilities and marital status
  • Age – a person treated unfavourably because of their advanced years As to the discrimination same can take the form of:
  • The termination of employee
  • Putting an employee in an unsafe position
  • Altering the nature of the employee’s duties and job status to their detriment
  • Advancing one employee over another without proper cause
  • Introducing different terms and conditions of employment for the particular employee

In fact, refusal to employ a prospective employee can constitute unlawful discrimination in itself.

The laws on unlawful discrimination are extensive and cover all manner of employees including those engaged in full-time, part-time or casual employment. It can even extend to employees who are on probation, apprentices and trainees.

Some action however taken by an employer may not constitute unlawful discrimination. For it to be unlawful discrimination it must be conduct as referred to above. If the conduct


complained of by the employee does not fall into the categories as identified as unlawful discrimination, then it may not be considered as such.

Any employee discriminated against can seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. Alternatively, an application may be lodged with the Fair Work Commission to seek redress. Remedies available to the employee discriminated against can include orders for reinstatement and/or compensation.

Brydens Lawyers are experts in all employment matters and can assist where an employee has been unlawfully discriminated against. For all your employment needs contact Brydens Lawyers without delay as strict time limits may apply. Contact Brydens Lawyers on 1800 848 848 or at brydens.com.au. At Brydens Lawyers – #WE DO employment matters.