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What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace is where somebody is treated less favourably because of a personal characteristic protected by law. People are not able to be treated less favourably due to their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or religion. A workplace practice or policy which is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging a person with a protected characteristic is also discrimination. For example, a higher number of female employees are likely to have carer’s responsibilities outside their workplace responsibilities. A change in circumstances in the workplace which involves working arrangements which are not conducive for people with carer’s responsibilities means that a higher proportion of females are likely to be adversely impacted.

Carer’s responsibilities

The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act specifically states that people cannot be discriminated against on grounds of their responsibilities as a carer. This applies to employees who are treated less favourably than staff who do not have such responsibilities. However, it also applies as a requirement or condition in the workplace which has a substantially higher proportion of persons who have carer’s responsibilities cannot comply.

What is reasonable?

Changes in working arrangements, hours of work and perhaps location of work may be discrimination against those with carer’s responsibilities. Employers do have a defence of reasonableness. For example, it may be that there is an operational reason to change the location of the workplace and therefore it is not feasible to have an employee work at their original location. Nevertheless, employers need to be mindful of carer’s responsibilities that their employees may have. Carer’s responsibilities are not confined to looking after children. It may include looking after elderly parents or a sick or disabled relative. It includes any circumstances where someone may rely on an employee’s care in order to live their lives.

Have you been discriminated against? We can help.

In the event that you have been discriminated against due to carer’s responsibilities, please call us on 13 43 63 so we can assess the situation and determine the appropriate course of action for you. Please note that there is a twelve (12) months time limitation for claims to be brought. Whilst there are exceptions to this, it is far better to avoid an argument as to the validity of the claim by bringing it within the twelve (12) months time frame.

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