Under Federal and State legislation, Unlawful Discrimination occurs when someone, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex, pregnancy or marital status; age; disability; religion; sexual preference; trade union activity; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

Workplace discrimination can occur in:

  • recruiting and selecting staff;
  • terms, conditions and benefits offered as part of employment;
  • who receives training and what sort of training is offered; and
  • who is considered and selected for transfer, promotion, retrenchment or dismissal.

Source: Information for Employers, Good practice, good business: Eliminating Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace, Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014)

Direct Discrimination – is treating someone less favourably, because they have attributes protected by law, than people without those attributes would be treated in the same or similar circumstances.

Indirect Discrimination – is often less obvious. Sometimes, a requirement, condition or practice seems fair because it applies to everyone, but a closer look shows that it has an unfair impact on some people with certain protected attributes. This is because some people or groups of people are unable, or less able, to comply with the requirement or are disadvantaged because of it. If the condition or practice is ‘not reasonable’, it may be indirect discrimination.

Recent articles

Reasonable management.

What isn’t Workplace Bullying? Reasonable Management.

Article updated on 15 April 2024 [Originally published in 2017] Workplace bullying is an organisational problem. It can happen in...
Trauma informed investigations

Trauma-informed workplace investigations: Prioritising ‘care’ over rigid processes

Interviewee: Kirsten Hartmann, Senior Workplace Relations Adviser/Workplace Investigator In August 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released four guiding...
Reverse bullying

Reverse Bullying is a Threat to Your Workplace Culture: Here is What it Looks Like

Article updated on 15 March 2024 [Originally published in 2020] What is reverse [or upward] bullying? Simply put, reverse bullying...

The First Tranche of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act 2023

Closing Loopholes Legislation Key changes taking effect from 15 December 2023 In late 2023, the Federal Government passed the first...