Get a lawyer who has helped numerous people to raise or respond to discrimination claims across Queensland.

Get a lawyer who has helped numerous people to raise or respond to discrimination claims across Queensland.

How this firm can help protect you

How this firm can help protect you

Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an award-winning lawyer with a passion for employment law. He is independently recommended as being among the leading corporate crime, white-collar crime and regulatory investigations lawyers in Australia (Doyles Guide, 2020).
Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Queensland Court of Appeal, Royal Commissions, Fair Work Commission and multiple other courts dealing with trials and other hearings, Andrew Anderson understands how to succeed in complex and difficult cases.
Andrew Anderson has worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in private practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers in Brisbane. His depth of courtroom advocacy experience ranges from simple cases right through to complex trials and appeals.
Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and fighting for justice is an everyday pursuit.

Learn more about discrimination issues

1. Specific workplace discrimination issues

All businesses, organisations and individuals have responsibilities not to engage in unlawful discrimination in the workplace. Unlawful discrimination can arise in a range of contexts and at various points of employment, including in recruitment, terms and conditions of employment, as well as during termination or redundancy decisions.

Age discrimination in the workplace

The Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) prohibits age discrimination in the workplace. If you have been treated less favourably, or not been given the same opportunities as others, on the basis of your age, you may be able to take action.

It is unlawful to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of age. Discrimination may arise through job advertisements, recruitment and selection, as well as during training, transfers, promotions and redundancies. If a person experiences age discrimination in the workplace, they may be able to take action against the employer or organisation, as well as specific individuals, which can lead to compensation and other forms of redress.

Disability discrimination in the workplace

Disability discrimination may occur directly or indirectly. As with other forms of discrimination in the workplace, disability discrimination may arise during the pre-employment stage, during employment or at the end of the employment relationship, such as in dismissal or redundancy decisions. Understanding what are ‘reasonable adjustments’ can be critical to determining whether discrimination has occurred.

Gender discrimination in the workplace

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes it unlawful for discrimination in the workplace to occur because of a person’s sex, gender identity, or intersex status (amongst other things). A person who faces such discrimination can take action.

Gender discrimination may occur directly or indirectly. It is unlawful to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of a person’s sex, gender identity, or intersex status. It may arise through job advertisements, recruitment and selection, as well as during training, transfers, promotions and redundancies. Gender discrimination may allow for action to be taken against the employer or organisation, as well as specific individuals.

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes it unlawful for a woman to be treated less favourably in the workplace because of pregnancy or the potential that she may become pregnant. A person who faces such discrimination can take action.

Unless there are valid medical or safety issues, a woman who is pregnant is entitled to perform the same work and on the same conditions as other employees in the workplace. An example of unlawful pregnancy discrimination would be overlooking a woman for promotion because she is pregnant. It may also be discrimination if a woman who is pregnant is unreasonably burdened by a practice, policy or procedure in the workplace.

Racial discrimination in the workplace

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) makes it unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. If a person suffers racial discrimination in the workplace, they may take action.

If an employer treats a person less favourably than others, either directly or indirectly because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, it is possible that the employer will be found to have acted unlawfully and in contravention to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). However, in some cases, ‘special measures’ may be adopted by businesses and organisations to promote equality of access to opportunities for all people. 

Religious discrimination in the workplace

In Queensland, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of their religious beliefs or religious activity. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) can also apply in limited contexts.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) specifically protects people from direct or indirect discrimination that may be experienced as a result of their religious beliefs or religious activity. In Queensland, if a business or organisation engages in religious discrimination in the workplace, they may be found to have acted unlawfully and therefore liable to claims under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) or the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).

2. Common issues with workplace discrimination

If you are facing a workplace discrimination issue, getting informed about the common issues that arise with discrimination claims might be crucial to protecting your interests and avoiding unfair outcomes. Failure to follow anti-discrimination laws in the workplace can give rise to successful claims against employers and others, in addition to other less obvious consequences.

While the information about each issue has been created to help people seeking to learn more about these common issues, it cannot – and is not meant to – substitute legal consultation. To get tailored advice about an issue that may be raised in a specific case, contact Anderson Legal.

Lawful vs Unlawful Discrimination

In Australia, anti-discrimination laws and equal opportunity workplace laws do recognise that some discrimination may be lawful. Determining whether discrimination is lawful or unlawful can be, at times, difficult and contentious.

Some discrimination in the workplace may be lawful. However, some seemingly non-discriminatory policies or decisions, such as a ‘last on, first off’ redundancy policy, however, may be unlawful. For example, in Australian Iron & Steel Pty Ltd v Banovic [1989] HCA 56 the High Court found in that case that such a policy was unlawful indirect discrimination against women as it entrenched previously discriminatory policies against women.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) may investigate and seek to resolve complaints about discrimination covered by Commonwealth laws as well as other breaches of human rights in Australia.

While the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is not a court, it does have an important role in seeking to resolve complaints regarding discrimination through conciliation. If conciliation is unsuccessful and the matter has sufficient merits, it may be possible to take the complaint to the Federal Circuit Court or Federal Court of Australia for determination. Strict time limits apply in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).  

Fair Work Commission

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) makes unlawful workplace discrimination unlawful and allows employees who face adverse action because of a protected attribute to take action in the Fair Work Commission.

Claims in the Fair Work Commission have strict time limits, which is 21 days for unfair dismissal or unlawful termination claims. In cases concerning contraventions of the unlawful discrimination protections under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), it is possible for the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia to impose civil penalties (fines) on individuals or corporations. Claimants may also be awarded compensation and/or be reinstated.

Queensland Human Rights Commission

If a person is subject to unlawful discrimination in Queensland, they may be able to make a complaint to the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC). It seeks to investigate and conciliate discrimination complaints.

The Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) allows individuals to make a complaint if they believe they have been subject to unlawful discrimination, such as on the basis of race or their gender. Complaints to the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) may be made concerning breaches of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld), Public Interest Disclosure Act 2021 (Qld), and the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

Queensland Industrial Relations Commission

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission hears and determines complaints that allege discrimination, sexual harassment or other breaches of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) that are work-related. Examples of work-related matters include discrimination encountered when applying for work, while employed, or may relate to victimisation or vilification. The Commission has the power to make determinations about work-related complaints.

3. Possible consequences of discrimination

For anybody facing an unlawful discrimination allegation at work, there can be a number of consequences that can result. For many people, the potentially far-reaching effects of workplace discrimination complaints come as a shock, which underscores why early advice from an experienced discrimination lawyer can be crucial to protecting your rights and advancing your interests.

Responding to a Written Warning at Work

If you receive an unfair written warning, there are a number of steps you can take to overturn its effect. Written warnings may be relied upon by employers for subsequent disciplinary actions to justify greater actions, such as dismissal.

While some written warnings at work state justified concerns about an employee’s capacity or conduct, others may be unfair, vague or misapprehends or overlooks some important facts. Failing to take appropriate action to respond to an unfair written warning can make it more difficult to later challenge its validity, making it harder to respond to any later disciplinary action. For this reason, it is important to take action following a written warning at work.

Responding to a Show Cause Letter at Work

A show cause letter is often sent during a disciplinary process to notify an employee of possibility of action being taken against them, such as the termination of their employment, and give them an opportunity to provide a response.

If you need to respond to a show cause letter at work, it is necessary to understand the importance of your response to what may follow. Failing to raise certain issues, or addressing the wrong issues, may not only see you face a disciplinary decision that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you may also jeopardise your ability to take action over a wrongful decision. Getting advice when responding to a show cause letter can be critical to the outcome.

Disciplinary Action – Dismissal

If you are dismissed from work because of a discrimination complaint and seek to know your options, there may be some steps you can take if you believe you were treated unlawfully or unfairly. Claims related to disciplinary action have strict time limits and eligibility criteria, so if you are under investigation or have already been dismissed, it is necessary to act quickly to protect your interests.

Bullying, Discrimination & Harassment Claims

If you are subject to bullying, discrimination or harassment, there are a number of possible claims that may be available to litigate, including through human rights and anti-discrimination commissions as well as the Fair Work Commission.

Increasingly, instead of seeking to deal with workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment claims simply through the Fair Work Commission, individuals are seeing the benefits of pursuing claims through human rights and anti-discrimination commissions across Australia. Additionally, people who suffer psychological or psychiatric injuries may also seek to pursue workers’ compensation claims among other types of claims that may be available.

General Protections Claims (Adverse Action)

In Australia, there are certain protections (called general protections) employees have that are designed to prevent an employer from taking adverse action over – such as disciplining or dismissing a worker because they exercise a workplace right.

A general protections claim allows a worker to bring a claim against their employer for taking actions that cause detriment (adverse action) because they exercise a workplace right or for some other protected reason. It is possible for employees to apply for injunctions to stop the decisions or actions taking effect, as well as to pursue compensation and other remedies for the resulting harm or damage caused by the adverse action.

Unfair Dismissal Claims

Following a discrimination complaint that results in an employer deciding to dismiss an employee, it may be often open for that employee to dispute the dismissal by filing an unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission.

Successful unfair dismissal claims may result in reinstatement and compensation being ordered by the Fair Work Commission. There are strict deadlines that apply to unfair dismissal claims so it is important that anybody considering lodging an unfair dismissal claim gets the advice and guidance needed to successfully navigate the dispute. Anderson Legal provides expert advice and guidance with respect to unfair dismissal claims.

Do you need personalised legal advice or representation about a work-related discrimination issue you are facing or your options with respect to specific discrimination claims taken against you?

If you are dealing with an unlawful discrimination issue at work, obtaining early and authoritative advice may be essential to protecting your rights and legal interests. Andrew Anderson has experience in assisting individuals to deal with issues arising with respect to discrimination within workplaces.

If you need to contact Anderson Legal, you can call the firm on (07) 3505 7070. Alternatively, you can complete our form and we will try to contact you.

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