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Home | Employment & Industrial Relations | Employment Disputes | Discrimination

We can assist if you believe that you have been discriminated against or harassed, or that your employer has ignored your concerns. We can also assist you if you have been accused of discriminating against, or harassing someone in your workplace.

There are a number of different sets of laws prohibiting discrimination that operate to protect workers.

What is unlawful discrimination?

Unlawful discrimination occurs when a person treats another less favourably because of a specific quality or attribute that the person has, or is believed to have. The specific qualities and attributes protected by law include:

  • A person’s race
  • A person’s sex
  • A person’s pregnancy or marital status
  • A person’s religion
  • A person’s sexual preference
  • A person’s age
  • A person’s disability
  • A person’s family or carer’s responsibilities
  • A person’s political opinion

Sexual harassment (that is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature) is generally considered to be a form of sex discrimination.

What are the laws that relate to discrimination?

The most significant anti-discrimination laws protections are:

  • The general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act (and the unlawful termination provisions);
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission regime (and its supporting legislation including the Sex Discrimination Act, the Race Discrimination Act, Disability Discrimination Act)
  • The protections in the Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW).
  • Policies and contractual rights that apply to many workers.

Which set of laws should be relied upon?

The different anti discrimination laws each have different advantages and disadvantages. Some conduct, for example discrimination on the basis of a person being transgender, exists specifically only under the NSW Anti Discrimination Act. Other sets of laws involve quicker and cheaper resolution procedures, the possibility of the imposition of fines, and different periods in which claims must be commenced.

Turner Freeman lawyers have extensive experience in advising which laws are most appropriate for any given set of facts.

What happens if I am accused of discriminating against another person?

Turner Freeman lawyers are not just experienced in representing people who have been discriminated against. We also act for people against whom allegations of discrimination or sexual harassment are made.

For people responding to allegations Turner Freeman are able to assist by:

  • Ensuring that people are aware of the precise nature of the allegations being made against them;
  • Ensuring that the process of investigation is fair;
  • Advising on a response;
  • Assisting with dealing with the findings of any investigation, including as the possible termination of employment.

Time limits

There are very strict time limits for the commencement of a claim alleging discrimination. A general protections application which led to the termination of employment (for example termination on the grounds of race), must be commenced within 60 days of termination.

A claim in the Australian Human Rights Commission must be brought within one (1) year of the discriminatory treatment that is the subject of the complaint.

You should however contact us as soon as possible to prevent such discriminatory conduct.

The law relating to discrimination is complex. Turner Freeman has expertise in advising clients through the maze of different rights, entitlements and protections.

To read about our fee policy in this area visit Our Fee policy.

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