Australia has always been intolerant when it comes to workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying. Laws are in place to enforce the fair treatment of workers and employers are required to comply with all measures that promote fair treatment, health, and safety in the workplace.
If you are an employee, you should be able to recognise these hostile behaviours and know the appropriate actions to take when they happen to you or someone you know.
Discrimination in the workplace
Discrimination happens when a person or group of persons are treated differently or less favourably because of certain personality traits such as race, colour, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, political opinion, and disability.
Workplace discrimination can be committed directly by making offensive jokes, denying benefits and promotions, and firing unreasonably. It can also take place indirectly when companies implement policies to which particular employees can not comply. The Fair Work Act 2009 and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 protect Aussies from any type of discrimination at work.
Sexual Harassment & Bullying
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance and gesture, including the display of explicit materials, remarks with sexual meaning, and communication (email and SMS) containing pornography or sex messages. Unnecessary touching and staring also count as sexual harassment. Any sexual harassment found may be charged with a criminal offense based on The Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
Bullying can also happen at work and The Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 defines it as a repeated unreasonable behaviour causing health and safety risks to an individual. Bullying behaviours can be physical, verbal, or psychological in nature. These include physical attacks, intimidation, yelling, using offensive or abusive language, teasing, and making an employee frequent joke target.
How to Make a Complaint
If you or someone you know have experienced discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying at your workplace, don’t remain silent. Instead, take immediate action to end any abusive behaviours towards you or your co-worker. The first step is to resolve the issue within the company premises.
You can do this informally by talking to the person or persons responsible for the inappropriate behaviour. Meanwhile, you can lodge a formal complaint by informing your manager or any human resource staff. Any policies and procedures in place to resolve such workplace issues will then be followed.
Should the situation prove it necessary, your company relations lawyer will give suitable advice on how to escalate the complaint to legal proceedings.
Who Else Can Help
The Australian Human Rights Commission and Fair Work Ombudsman are two of the external agencies that will investigate workplace disputes like discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying complaint.
They also help resolve them through conciliation, mediation, or arbitration. However, these agencies will not accept any complaints about bullying that were not tried to resolve at the workplace first.
Other agencies can also help with specific types of complaints. The Disability Discrimination Legal Service and AED Legal Centre give help to complainants being discriminated against for their disabilities. Meanwhile, the Fair Work Commission deals with complaints involving workplace bullying.
The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission can help with complaints lodged by people working in the public sector about workplace harassment.
Adams Wilson Lawyers can help
The existence of discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying at your workplace must not be ignored for any reason. Even though lodging complaints can be very complex, they should be done immediately so as not to tolerate these unacceptable behaviours.
Adams Wilson Lawyers can provide you legal advice for complaints about workplace discrimination and human rights. Our experienced lawyers can also conduct seminars and workshops to make sure that existing policies and procedures of employers are compliant with the State and Federal Human Rights Legislation.
Call Adams Wilson Lawyers today on (02) 9358 5822 or send us an enquiry for any workplace incidents that involve discrimination or breach of human rights laws.