How does anti-discrimination law affect employment?
The Act makes discrimination, sexual harassment and vilification in employment against the law. This applies
to every aspect of work, including recruitment, terms and conditions, and termination of employment. It also applies to
all categories of work, whether it be full-time, part-time, casual, voluntary etc.
What are my rights and responsibilities as an employer?
All employers have the right to appoint and dismiss workers in accordance with proper procedures and to expect
reasonable performance from their employees. However, employers do not have the right to discriminate against existing
or potential employees or to allow sexual harassment or vilification.
The Act establishes a legal responsibility on employers to provide workplaces free from discrimination, sexual
harassment and vilification. All employers need to therefore take reasonable steps to prevent or minimise these
behaviours in the workplace. Reasonable steps might include the implementation of appropriate policies and practices,
training and education of staff and the establishment of grievance and complaint procedures. Employers must not allow
workers to be discriminated against, sexually harassed or subjected to vilification by other workers, clients or
management. If they do they can be held legally liable.
Employers also have the right to take appropriate action against any employee who might be engaging in this type of
conduct while at work. Such action might include formal staff counselling, disciplinary procedures and, in serious
Equal opportunity principles and practices make good business sense. The benefits include improved productivity,
smoother workplace relations with less conflict and disruption, reduced staff turnover, enhanced workplace and market
diversity, better client service delivery, decreased training costs and minimised legal liability and costs. It also
provides opportunities to enhance a corporate image as a responsible employer and to more effectively use the diverse
skills and experience of staff. Client responses to diverse non-discriminatory workplaces are often positive and may
lead to market loyalty, enhancing continuity and profit.
Employee entitlements, leave provisions, pay rates etc should be based on the duties and responsibilities of the job
rather than personal characteristics of individual workers. Employers and organisations also need to ensure that
employment and management practices do not incorporate unlawful discrimination. The implementation of specific policies
and training programs can help to minimise the scope and impact of discriminatory attitudes and practices in the
workplace and to reduce legal liability.
What are my rights and responsibilities as an employee?
All employees have the right to be free from discrimination, sexual harassment and vilification in the workplace.
If employees believe that this type of behaviour is occurring in the workplace, they have the right to make a complaint
to the Commission and seek a solution through conciliation.
Employees also have a responsibility not to engage in this type of conduct and to uphold an employers policies on
these issues. Workers who behave in a discriminatory fashion, who sexually harass or vilify co-workers or clients can
be disciplined by their employer, and may be dismissed in serious cases.
of Discrimination in Employment