Workplace Discrimination

Workplace Discrimination




Discrimination in the Workplace

Where an employer has taken adverse action against an employee or prospective employee on the basis of:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • psychical or mental disability
  • marital status
  • family or carer’s responsibilities
  • pregnancy
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • national extraction or social origin

An investigation may be made as to whether or not the employer has undertaken discriminatory practices that are linked to adverse action. If the investigation finds the employer has indeed been discriminatory, action may be brought in the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Adverse Action

If an employer takes adverse action and it is taken for a discriminatory reason it will be unlawful under the Fair Work Act 2009. Adverse action can be conduct such as threatening to or actually:

  • dismissing an employee;
  • injuring an employee during employment;
  • altering an employee’s position to their detriment;
  • being discriminatory between employees;
  • refusing to employ an individual; and
  • being discriminatory to a prospective employee by way of the terms and conditions of an offer of employment.

Are You Protected From Discrimination in the Workplace?

Employees who are part-time, casual, on probation, in a position of apprentice or trainee and individuals employed for fixed terms are all protected under Australian anti-discrimination laws.

What is Not Unlawful Discrimination?

If an employer engages in an adverse action which is not based around one of the discriminatory attributes it will not be considered an act of unlawful discrimination. Therefore, if your employer changes your duties simply because of poor performance this will not be unlawful discrimination.

An action will also not be considered discriminatory where it is permissible under the law, is based on the inherent requirements of the position or is taken against an employee in accordance with an institution’s religious beliefs.

It is not uncommon for individuals to feel they have been discriminated against when in actual fact they have been exposed to workplace bullying or harassment. It is important that if you are unsure, that you seek legal advice as to your circumstances.

I Think I’ve Been Dismissed on Discriminatory Grounds

If you have been dismissed from your employment and you believe it was on the grounds of one of the attributes listed above, you should make an application to the FWC for unfair dismissal. An application for unfair dismissal or unlawful termination must be made within 21 days of the dismissal taking effect.

If you require general information about applications and forms with the FWC see the details below:

Fair Work Online:
Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94
Need language help?
Contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50

Focused on Results

It is essential you have experienced solicitors when dealing with disputes relating to discrimination in the workplace and employment law. If you have experienced discrimination at work, our employment law team will make sure your rights are protected. We can also offer advice to employers if an application through Fair Work Australia has been brought against your business.

Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane are focused on results. Our solicitors can assist you with all employment matters. Call today to discuss your needs.

Office Location and Contact Details


Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

Ph: 07 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311