Did the Deed Discriminate? – Short facts about Discrimination law in Australia

Key Points
  • Discrimination law protects the rights of Australians to equitable treatment
  • The laws allow that Discrimination can be either Direct or Indirect.
  • Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably due to a protected attribute. Indirect discrimination occurs when a person with a protected attribute is unable to comply with a requirement.

Modern approaches to discrimination acknowledge that people are legally entitled to equitable treatment. Discrimination law provides a framework to categorise and respond to the types of discrimination which can occur in workplaces and other institutions where people interact, for instance, in our Schools and Universities. The law can be complex, and understanding some of the key principles can assist in avoiding unintentional issues.

Discrimination may occur as a result of direct or indirect actions and behaviours.

Although the statutory tests differ slightly across the Australian jurisdictions, in general, direct discrimination occurs where a person is treated less favourably, in the same or circumstances which are not materially different, when compared to a person who does not have that person’s attribute (for example, race, sex, and disability).

Indirect discrimination occurs where a person is unable to comply with a requirement where a higher proportion of persons who do not have the aggrieved person’s attribute can comply. In this context, the triggering requirement is not reasonable in nature, or has the effect of disadvantaging a person with a particular attribute. In determining whether a person indirectly discriminates, it is irrelevant whether or not that person is aware of the discrimination.

Jennifer Parkes, Partner, Hicksons Lawyers, has extensive practical experience navigating Australian discrimination law and developing best practice policies and procedures to avoid or respond to incidents and claims.

Post by Jennifer Parkes

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