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Discrimination happens when someone is treated less favourably than others based on a particular attribute.

Australian workers are protected from discrimination by various state and federal legislation.

The law differs slightly from state to state, so it’s important to seek professional advice if you believe you have suffered discrimination.

The types of attributes a person can be discriminated against include their:

  • race
  • sex or gender
  • sexuality or sexual orientation
  • colour
  • race
  • national extraction or social origin
  • religion
  • age (young or old)
  • physical or mental impairment or disability
  • martial or parental status
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • political opinion
  • trade union activity

Workplace discrimination is unlawful, and can happen when someone is employed, or on work experience, or is applying for a job.

It also applies to contractors and volunteers.

Bosses can not discriminate against employees, for example, by not giving someone a job or a promotion because they are pregnant, or because they have a physical impairment.

In some states, discrimination can happen when providing or accessing goods and services, like buying and selling things from shops, cafes or cinemas, or hiring tradespeople or attending medical and legal services.

If you work in real estate, discrimination can happen when renting properties, or hiring out motel or hotel rooms.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any uninvited, unwelcome, or unwanted behaviour that is sexual in nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

It does not need to be repeated or on-going for it to be unlawful.

Both men and women can be affected by sexual harassment.

While there are federal and state laws to protect you from sexual harassment, there are slight differences in the legislation, depending on where you live.

Some examples of sexual harassment can include:

  • any unwelcome touching, no matter how minor
  • insults or taunts that are sexual in nature
  • staring or leering
  • sexually suggestive jokes or comments
  • intrusive questions about your private life
  • displaying posters of a sexual nature
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages or inappropriate advances on social media
  • repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates or requests for sex

It is important to know that sexual harassment can happen in the work environment, including an office, or a factory or a work site, but it can also happen anywhere else that is work-related, including hotels, restaurants, bars, taxis, or function centres.

It can also happen on social media, or via text messages.

What should you do if you have been subjected to discrimination or sexual harassment?

If you believe that you have been subjected to discrimination or sexual harassment, there are things you can do to make it stop, and you may also be entitled to compensation.

Please call Industrial Relations Claims on

1300 853 837


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