Impairment case studies

The impairment case summaries are grouped into two categories: court and tribunal decisions, and conciliated outcomes.

Court and tribunal decisions are made after all the evidence is heard, including details of loss and damage. The full text of court and tribunal decisions is available from:

Conciliated outcomes are where the parties have reached an agreement through conciliation at the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

Court and tribunal decisions

Able to comply with requirement

Type of outcomeQueensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
ContraventionDiscrimination
AttributeImpairment
AreaProviding goods and services
OutcomeComplaint dismissed
CompensationNot applicable
Year2017

Summary: A man with a hearing impairment claimed his internet service provider (ISP) discriminated against him by requiring him to contact them by telephone to cancel the service and to discuss a debt, and in referring a debt to a debt recovery agency.

The man and his partner were making arrangements to move house, and they rang the ISP to ask about transferring the service to new premises.  They weren’t happy about the additional cost to move the service, so they asked if they could cancel it.  They were told to call again on the day they wanted to cancel the service.  They were also told there would be a cancellation fee.  The man then made a complaint to the ISP by email, and after another phone call, he asked for escalation of his complaint to take place by email.  After complaining to the Anti-Discrimination Commission, the man cancelled the service by email, and he was issued with a final invoice, which included a cancellation fee.  The man did not pay the invoice, and he was sent automated calls from the debt department asking him to contact them by phone.  The debt was later referred to a debt collection agency, which sent the man correspondence telephone and other contact details, but no email address.

Although the man was born with significant hearing loss, he had a cochlear implant that gave him significantly improved hearing.

The tribunal found that the ISP had imposed a term that cancellation of a service had to be done by telephone (this was a mistake on the part of the operator as the ISP policy did allow cancellation to be done by email).  The tribunal found however, that the man was able to comply with the term because the evidence showed he was capable of hearing and conducting conversation on the telephone in relation to matters of a straightforward nature.  He spoke clearly, and the details required were of a straight forward nature, which he had managed before.

In respect to being asked to contact the ISP by telephone about the debt, the tribunal said the request did not preclude other modes of communication, and did not amount to a requirement or condition.  If the request did amount to the imposition of a term, the man was able to comply with it.

The tribunal was not satisfied that the debt was referred to the debt collection agency because of the man’s impairment.  If a term was imposed that the man contact the agency by telephone, the tribunal was not satisfied that the man was unable to comply with the term.

There was no discrimination and the complaint was dismissed.

Bell v iiNet Ltd [2017] QCAT 14

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No job after probation period because of injury

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Discrimination
Requesting unnecessary information
Attribute Impairment
Area Work
Outcome details Compensation
Compensation $10,000
Year 2016

Summary: A woman claimed the Council discriminated against her because of her wrist injury when it did not confirm her employment at the end of a probationary period. The Council claimed the reason for not continuing the employment was that the woman had not been honest in her response to an interview question.

The woman attended two interviews and a pre-employment medical assessment. At the first interview she was asked whether there was any medical or other reason that would prevent her from performing the duties, to which she responded No . Although she had a past injury to her wrist that had been exacerbated by excessive typing in her previous job, she genuinely thought she could perform all the duties of the position.

At the medical assessment the woman completed a questionnaire that disclosed the injury, surgery and subsequent problem with the wrist. The examining doctor reported that there was potential impact on her ability to meet the requirements of the position, and recommended a review by an occupational therapist to determine necessary accommodations and limitations. After receiving the report, Council officers telephoned the woman and discussed the concerns flagged by the doctor in the report, and obtained a report from an occupational therapist. The doctor provided a further report on the adjustments recommended by the therapist.

The woman was then sent an offer of employment, and when she commenced work she was given a work plan outlining restrictions on her duties.

Towards the end of the probation period the Council asked the doctor how long the work restrictions were needed, and the doctor advised the restrictions should remain in place for a minimum of 2 years to prevent aggravation of the previous injury or create another over-use injury. The Council also asked the woman questions about her previous employment, and asked the previous employer for information about an aggravated injury she had endured.

The tribunal found that questions about the former workplace and to the former employer were unnecessary to the continued safe performance of the woman's work, and were directed to the risk her injuries posed if her injuries were aggravated. The tribunal found the Council had sought unnecessary information on which unlawful discrimination could be based, in contravention of section 124 of the Anti-Discrimination Act .

The tribunal also found that the reason for dismissing the woman was her impairment, and the attendant risk of a claim against the Council arising out of an aggravation of her injuries.

The tribunal awarded general damages of $10,000. The claim for economic loss was not substantiated.

Thorne v Toowoomba Regional Council [2016] QCAT 212
(There is an appeal against the decision.)

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Theme park rides

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Providing goods and services
Outcome details Compensation
Compensation $500
Year 2015

Summary: A woman who does not have a left hand, wrist or forearm, complained about the way she was treated at three Gold Coast theme parks in December 2013.

The first incident was at Sea World, where the woman was in a queue for the Sea Viper ride. Although she was wearing an arm band issued by the park authorising her to go on the ride, the attendant pointed at the woman's left arm and shouted to another employee, Has this been checked? . The tribunal found the ride attendant had been insensitive and rude when seeking to clarify whether the woman had been approved to go on the ride, and this was less favourable treatment of her compared to the treatment of people without her impairment. The tribunal awarded $500 damages.

The second incident occurred a few days later at Wet and Wild when the woman took the Kamikaze ride. There had been a delay in the ride and the woman felt that other patrons were blaming her for the delay because they were pointing at her and making rude comments. At the end of the ride the attendant asked the woman to remove armbands from other parks that she was wearing. The woman asked for help to do that because she has only one hand, and the attendant told her to go to guest services. The tribunal found the attendant had not been rude when he asked the woman to remove the armbands from other parks and that the request was not unfavourable. The tribunal said that in making the request the park did not impose a term on the woman, and even if it was a term, it was reasonable to aid in the safe and efficient provision of services to guests of Wet and Wild. There was no direct or indirect discrimination of the woman.

The third incident occurred the following day at Movie World when the woman attended the guest services office. She complained that the guest services employee used the word assessed several times instead of safety-check . The tribunal found the term assessed was factual, short and not inherently nasty. It said the woman did not suffer any unfavourable treatment and there was no discrimination of her.

Kleinig v Village Roadshow Theme Parks Pty Ltd [2015] QCAT 330

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Fingerprint scanner too difficult for person in wheelchair

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Administration of state laws and programs
Outcome details Compensation
Physical access improvements suggested
Compensation $8,000
Year 2015

Summary: A man who uses a wheelchair and has a paralysed hand was required to provide fingerprints using a scanning device designed for people who can stand. It caused him considerable effort to lift up each arm to the scanning plate, and keep his arm in that position while the prints were being taken. The operator repeatedly opened the curled fingers of his paralysed hand to try, unsuccessfully, to scan for fingerprints.

The tribunal found that the fingerprint process was prolonged, demeaning and intrusive. It was not reasonable to require a wheelchair-user with a paralysed hand to undergo the process using the fixed cabinet scanning device. The device was not designed for that use and the requirement was not in accord with the published policies of the Police Service about dealing with vulnerable persons with disabilities.

It was reasonable to attempt to obtain prints from a paralysed hand by manually opening fingers, but unreasonable to repeat the process. Manually opening paralysed fingers several times amounted to indirect discrimination.

The man who uses a wheelchair also needed to collect a document from the prosecutor's office to use in a court proceeding. The office was on an upper floor and there was no lift. Buzzers were used to gain entrance through closed doors, and he had to call out repeatedly to get attention and have the document brought down to him.

The tribunal found that, while frustrating, the system in place to provide access for persons with mobility difficulties to an area not normally open to the public was not unreasonable. The option was also available to him to have the document emailed or posted.

The man experienced discomfort, physical stress on his body, embarrassment, degradation, humiliation and anger, but no ongoing effect on psychological or emotional functioning.

He was awarded general damages of $8,000 for emotional distress and physical discomfort from the fingerprinting episode. The tribunal also suggested that the respondent should look at improving the system of physical access to the prosecutor's office for people for mobility impairment.

Hunter v State of Queensland [2015] QCAT 179

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Depressed worker forced to do suicide prevention training

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Work
Outcome details Compensation
Compensation $10,000
Year 2012

Summary: A temporary administrative worker at a prison was required to undertake Suicide Prevention Awareness training, despite having earlier been excused from a scheduled session of the training because of her medical condition of depression with a history of attempted suicides. The worker experienced difficulty undertaking the training on-line on her own, and had to take breaks during which she sought assistance from the employer's equity officer.

The employer disputed the circumstances of training and the effect on the worker, however the tribunal preferred the evidence of the worker to that of the manager.

The tribunal found a term had been imposed, and even though the worker did the training, she did it under duress fearing for her job security, and suffered extreme emotional distress. The tribunal found the term was not reasonable, and awarded $10,000 damages for emotional pain and suffering.

Rushton v Muller & Anor [2012] QCAT 505

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School did provide for student who learns more slowly

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Education
Outcome details Complaint dismissed
Year 2010

Summary: The applicant YB is a year 12 high school student and complained that he was subject to unlawful discrimination in the provision of educational services to him at the high school which he attends.

YB's mother made the complaint to the ADCQ as agent for YB when he was in year 10. During the course of the QCAT hearing, YB turned 18 and affirmed the complaint made on his behalf and took over the conduct of the complaint at the Tribunal.

YB claimed to have a range of impairments including a phonological processing disorder, scotopic sensitivity, dyslexia, mild dysgraphia and executive dysfunction. He said these conditions caused him to learn more slowly than students without the conditions.

Specifically, he could not get through required reading on time; had difficulty in organising, understanding and breaking down tasks; had difficulty reading documents in small font size printed on white paper and was unable to complete assignments on time or keep up with work.

YB relied on a number of reports about his conditions, and QCAT analysed the expert and lay evidence, and determined that YB has a phonological disorder and some weakness in executive functioning which results in YB learning more slowly than a person without the condition, and constitutes an impairment under the Act. The Tribunal specifically rejected the assertion that YB has the conditions of scotopic sensitivity, dyslexia or mild dysgraphia.

It was argued that the school imposed terms that:
in order for a student to obtain the educational benefits offered by the respondent at M State High School and to prepare fully for assessment in Years 9 and 10, the student was required to read and absorb course materials printed in 8 or 10 point font, read and absorb course materials printed on white paper, read and absorb examination papers printed in 8 or 10 point font, undertake assessment, including examination assessment, within the strict universal timeframes set down by M State High School and complete their studies without any assistance from learning support teachers.

The Tribunal found that the school did not impose the terms as argued. It found that the school:

  • required YB's teachers to provide him with course, assessment, and examination materials in 14 point font, and later to be printed on coloured paper; (It noted that there were isolated occasions where this requirement may not have been followed.)
  • required the heads of departments and YB's teachers to permit him to have extensions of time in which to complete assessment items including examinations;
  • provided YB with assistance from learning support teachers and with additional learning support from the deputy principal;
  • provided other accommodations to YB including a laptop computer and uploading course materials to it.

The complaint was not made out and was dismissed.

With regard to costs, Member Endicott said:
In view of the fact that YB was a minor for all but the hearing stage of the claim and his claim was brought and maintained by his agent, JB, until the start of the hearing, the Tribunal is unlikely to be persuaded that in the interests of justice an award of costs should be made.

YB v State of Queensland [2010] QCAT 395

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No realistic prospect of performing the duties

Type of outcome Anti-Discrimination Tribunal Queensland decision
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Work
Outcome details Complaint dismissed
Year 2008

Summary: The ADTQ dismissed a complaint by a worker who claimed she had been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of impairment when her employment was terminated after suffering an injury at a meatworks where she was employed for one day and one hour.

The Tribunal accepted that the woman's injury was sustained because of the repetitive nature of the duties required by the position, despite being given the lightest duties available at the meatworks.

The Tribunal found that the termination was not discriminatory, because it was reasonable for the employer to form the view that there was no realistic prospect that she would be able to perform the position requirements, even if given time to recover from her injuries. It also found that the termination was excused under the workplace health and safety exemption in section 108 of the Act.

Halle v Holmes & Anor [2008] QADT 28

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Conciliated outcomes

Assistance dog in restaurant

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Providing oods and services
Outcome details

Policy change / change in practice

Year 2015

Summary: A man who relies on an assistance dog telephoned a restaurant to make a reservation, and said he would be bringing his assistance dog. He was told over the phone that dogs were not allowed in the restaurant.

At the conciliation conference, the person from the restaurant said she remembered saying that dogs were not allowed, however she did not realise the man was referring to an assistance dog. She said she was aware that assistance dogs are allowed by law and would welcome this man back but that the dog could be left just outside the restaurant.

The conciliator explained that a person who relies on an assistance dog has rights under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to take the dog into public places, including restaurants. It is an offence for the restaurant to refuse entry to a person because they have an assistance dog, if the dog is wearing an identifying coat and the person has their identity card.

The complaint process helped the restaurant to better understand their obligations in relation to guide, hearing and assistance dogs, and that they would not be in breach of their food licence issued by the local council for allowing assistance dogs in the dining room of the restaurant. They agreed that in future they would clarify with a person making a booking or coming to the restaurant with a dog whether it was a guide, hearing or assistance dog.

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Kindergarten student with ADHD

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Impairment
Area Providing goods and services
Outcome details

Apology
Complainant satisfied with response / information provided
Policy change / change in practice
Refund (partial) of fees

Year 2014

Summary: The mother of a five year old boy with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) complained that her son was not being fully included in the kindergarten program.

The teacher asked her to collect her son two hours early, and also spoke to the principal of the school the boy was to attend the following year about his additional needs.

In conciliation the mother described how the teacher's actions made her feel that her son was being 'singled out' because of his impairment. The teacher said she asked the mother to collect the boy early because he had difficulty settling at nap time and he became upset when other children were collected before him.

The teacher apologised for speaking to the principal without the mother's prior consent and explained how the information she had provided would assist the boy transition to primary school.

Both the mother and the teacher acknowledged responsibility for a breakdown in communication between them.

The mother was satisfied with the teacher's explanation. The kindergarten agreed to adjust its policies and procedures, to undertake further training in special needs, and to refund part of the kindergarten fees.

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HIV status and work as a chef

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details acknowledgment
compensation
Compensation amount not disclosed
Year 2014

Summary: When an apprentice chef was diagnosed as HIV positive he informed his employer, and the next day he was dismissed.

The owners of the small business restaurant had been advised by their insurance broker that their insurance may be cancelled if they continued to employ the apprentice.

At the conciliation conference the apprentice chef explained that a large volume of blood would be required to pass on the condition, and that universal hygiene measures meant there was an extremely low risk of this occurring. He also told them he was now working in another restaurant where the employer was aware of his HIV status.

The restaurant owners acknowledged they should have investigated the risks and sought advice elsewhere. They agreed to pay compensation to the apprentice for hurt and humiliation as well as one month's loss of income.

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Communication with Deaf community

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area administration of state laws and programs
goods and services
Outcome details policy change / change in practice
undertaking to consult with affected community
Year

2012–2013

Summary: A deaf woman complained that a government agency failed to engage interpreters when they responded to an emergency involving six profoundly deaf adults. Because the complainant could neither read nor write, as well as being deaf, she needed a deaf relay interpreter as well as Auslan interpreters.

At conference, the government agency agreed to work with the Deaf community to ensure more effective communication in future.

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Modifications to rental accommodation

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area accommodation
Outcome details apology
compensation
training
Compensation amount not disclosed
Year

2012–2013

Summary: The complainant had impairments which required her to use a wheelchair. She approached a housing association which offered her a unit for rent. The unit needed modifications to make it safe, which a consultant reported to the housing association. The complainant agreed to move in while the modifications were being carried out and started to sell her possessions in anticipation of moving to a smaller residence. The housing association then decided that the modifications were too expensive and rented the unit to a person who did not require them.

At the conciliation conference the housing association argued unjustifiable hardship as all income for the maintenance of its properties is raised through rental income, but conceded that they did not get quotes for the cost of the modifications.

They apologised for not communicating with the complainant in a timely and effective way and agreed to pay compensation and have their staff trained to better understand how to manage this situation in future.

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Wheelchair access to aircraft

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
access to transport
Outcome details

policy change / change in practice

Year

2012–2013

Summary: A complainant who used a wheel chair complained that he was not provided with adequate access to a wheelchair to board and disembark the aeroplane.

The airline agreed to implement new policies and processes so that customers with wheelchairs are provided with better access into the aircraft and more reliable access to their wheelchair upon arrival at their destination.

The company also doubled the number of wide bodied wheelchairs that are able to be used by clients at the airport.

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Work injury restricts job capacity

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details

job offer

Year

2012–2013

Summary: The complainant was a long time employee of a dental clinic, with a great work history. She was injured at work which resulted in many restrictions in her ability to perform her job. She was stood down without pay pending a medical examination and was possibly facing ill health retirement.

At conciliation the clinic explained they had looked for other positions for her, but there were none. An agreement was reached through conciliation where the clinic agreed to look for possible positions outside the clinic for a period of eight weeks. Within two days of the conference a suitable position was found for the complainant in a call centre related to the dental clinic. The complainant happily accepted the job.

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Time off work to recover from medical procedure

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details apology
compensation
statement of service
Compensation amount not disclosed
Year 2012

Summary: A complaint was made to ADCQ by an employee who claimed that her employment was terminated because she required a medical procedure and would need time off work to recover.

Through the ADCQ conciliation process the complaint was successfully resolved. The complainant received an apology from their former employer, financial compensation and a supported statement of service. The complaint was resolved within three weeks of lodgement.

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Termination due to uncertainty surrounding medical condition

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details compensation
statement of regret
Compensation amount not disclosed
Year 2010

Summary: A dental nurse who worked as a full-time permanent employee with a dental practice for eight years developed a condition that required regular medical appointments. The woman notified her employer and was absent from work on a number of occasions to receive treatment.

Afterwards, the woman received a letter from her employer saying that due to the economic downturn, they could only offer her casual employment. She was asked to notify them within seven days of whether she would accept the casual position or resign. The woman wrote to the employer saying that she was too stressed and upset to provide an answer within the timeframe, and sought more information on a number of matters before she could make a decision.

On the day she was originally asked to make the decision, the employer terminated her employment, and said that it was due to the uncertainty surrounding her medical condition. The conciliated outcomes included compensation and a statement of regret from the employer.

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Dismissal due to medical condition, not economic downturn

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details

apology
compensation
anti-discrimination training undertaken

Compensation amount not disclosed
Year 2010

Summary: A man employed by a tyre service organisation that had recently changed hands had a pre-existing injury that was made known to the new owners.

Initially, the new bosses gave him time off without pay so he could recover. After treatment, the man contacted the new owner and advised that he was ready to return to work after two weeks. He was then told that there was no work for him, due to the economic downturn.

The complainant initially accepted this but approached the ADCQ after receiving a separation certificate stating that he was terminated due to medical reasons . He also found out that someone else had been employed in his position.

The employers were not able to show that his termination was due to the economic downturn, and said they were unaware that their reasons for terminating him may have breached Queensland laws. The conciliated outcomes included compensation, an apology and an agreement for one of the owners to attend an ADCQ education session and pass the information on to their staff.

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Wheelchair access lost with redeveopment

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
access to premises
Outcome details

policy change / change in practice
policy change / change in practice (external customers)
undertaking to report progress

Summary: A man alleged discrimination on the basis of impairment when he found he no longer had access to a ramp for his wheelchair. The ramp had been replaced with a staircase as part of a redevelopment. As a result, he could no longer use the thoroughfare and had to go a considerable distance to use the alternative, accessible route. He said that removal of the ramp had occurred without public consultation and was unacceptable. He proposed that the steps be replaced with a ramp or lift.

The developers and the council responsible for the redevelopment highlighted difficulties in implementing and maintaining an accessible route at that location. As the road had been widened, the footpath area was too narrow for a ramp, and a lift would have been expensive to install and maintain, and would also be subject to vandalism. A further difficulty was that the area was heritage listed.

Ultimately the complainant accepted the difficulties in relation to the specific site, while the respondents accepted his concerns in relation to the process and outcome of the redevelopment.

The complaint was resolved on the basis that the developer:

  • paid $20,000 to a disability advocate organisation, to develop disability awareness resources
  • will take specific steps to ensure their projects comply with relevant Australian Standards relating to disability access
  • will promote the issue of disability access within relevant industry groups
  • will report to the complainant on an annual basis for 3 years about the progress in implementing these terms.

The Council agreed to:

  • involve the complainant in addressing other access concerns
  • continue to implement its non discriminatory access code
  • review the code and its implementation and submit a summary of the review to the complainant
  • provide the complainant an opportunity to input into proposed mobility studies.

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Access at theme park

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
Outcome details

undertaking to consult with affected community
policy change / change in practice
other opportunity provided

Summary: Improved disability access to rides and attractions at a theme park was sought by a complainant in a wheelchair. In addition, concerns were raised regarding the treatment she received from certain staff of the park, which she believed was a result of her impairment.

Through conciliation, an agreement was reached. It involved the company agreeing to seek advice from a disability advocate regarding improved access to the park generally, as well as to certain attractions.

Further, the complainant was invited by the company to speak directly with staff of the park about her experiences in a wheelchair, to increase their awareness of disability issues.

It was agreed that the complainant and her family be provided with accommodation whilst attending these sessions. As a gesture of goodwill the company also offered a twelve month pass to the complainant and her family.

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Medical examination to assess fitness for job

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details

apology
policy change / change in practice
other

Year

2000–2001

Summary: The complainant applied for an emergency service communication room position. He had served previously in a similar position for many years and was offered the position pending a medical examination. He disclosed on his application form that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

The respondent denied him employment on the basis of his impairment stating that the position was extremely stressful and there was potential risk to clients and fellow workers.

At conciliation it was agreed that procedures were not followed, his physician should have been consulted and the notification form letter was cursory. The matter settled with an agreement to reassess the application after examination by a specialist, an apology and a commitment to change the wording of the rejection letter.

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Surgery refused because of HIV status

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
Outcome details

compensation
policy change / change in practice
training

Compensation

amount not disclosed

Year

1999–2000

Summary: A man alleged he was discriminated against on the basis of his impairment. He said his HIV+ status was the reason he was refused major surgery. After a delay of several months he was able to arrange for an operation in another State, but argued that the delay had permanently affected the level of benefit he gained from the operation. The complainant said the hospital's inefficient administrative system and the losing of a medical record had further aggravated his situation.

The hospital said that the situation was more complicated than the complainant alleged. They acknowledged, however, deficiencies in their administrative system and that they needed more understanding of HIV in the area of major surgery. Since being alerted to the complaint, the hospital had taken steps to improve their patient tracking systems and their administrative processes. In resolving the complaint the hospital undertook to liaise with other medical services and community agencies with expertise regarding HIV and to provide more information about patients rights in these areas. The complainant also received financial compensation.

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Wheelchair ramps to be made safe

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
Outcome details

access to premises provided
policy change / change in practice

Year

1999–2000

Summary: The Commission dealt with a number of complaints from people in wheelchairs challenging the safety of ramps in public areas. Each complainant also alleged that the ramps did not comply with Australian Standards for disability access. Respondents to these matters asserted that the ramps conformed to the Building Code of Australia and that wheelchair access was well catered for. These matters were conciliated after negotiations between the parties with the respondents undertaking to put in place structures complying with the relevant Australian Standards. In some matters this followed the advice provided by Access Consultants.

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Public library access provided

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
Outcome details access to premises provided
Year

1998–1999

Summary: Disability access to the children's section of a public library was sought on behalf of a child in a wheelchair. Approaches directly to the council by the girl's foster mother were unsuccessful and on the advice of a local advocacy group a complaint was lodged with the Commission. Because of the public nature of council meetings there was extensive local media interest. Through conciliation the city council agreed to install a lift. Both parties were very co-operative and satisfied with the outcome. The child's foster mother was delighted and wrote ADCQ staff were very helpful and clear in the information I received.

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Assumed that gay worker was HIV positive

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment (presumed)
Area work
Outcome details compensation
other
Compensation amount not disclosed
Year

1998–1999

Summary: A man had worked for some time at a local supermarket without disclosing to his co-workers that he was gay. His colleagues eventually suspected that he was gay, after he had been seen out at a gay nightclub, and in an attempt to put an end to rumour, the man told his colleagues that he was gay. After declaring this, he was subjected to frequent jokes about his sexuality, rude remarks about the likelihood that he would pass on AIDS to his co-workers (even though he was not HIV positive),and even threatened that he would be bashed up in the car park.

The man lodged a complaint on the basis of sexuality and imputed impairment, against all of the co-workers who he alleged had discriminated against him, and the employer. None of the co-workers denied what was alleged against them, but the employer denied that it was vicariously liable, arguing that it had taken reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination. Following a conciliation conference, the respondent employer agreed to pay the complainant an undisclosed sum, and to provide specific monetary and other assistance to him to relocate interstate.

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Raising medical condition created impression of discrimination

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area work
Outcome details

apology
policy change / change in practice
other opportunity provided

Summary: A woman alleged that she was not interviewed for a position and was told by the supervisor that it was because she had a medical condition. The company and the individual respondent denied the allegations stating that she was not given an interview because she did not meet the requirements of the position. At conciliation the respondent stated that in a discussion with the complainant about her not being successful in the application, her medical condition was discussed. An apology was given to the complainant for any false impression given to her that her medical condition had been taken into account. The company agreed to the following:

  • To develop a formal training and development program with the complainant in relation to the position for which she had applied, including an appropriate process for review of the program. The process was to include recognition of the complainant's current skills and abilities.
  • The company agreed to provide details of its formal recruitment procedures, including job selection, to the complainant and agreed that it would not victimise or disadvantage the complainant in any way as a result of the complaint.

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Access to council facilities improved

Type of outcome conciliation
Contravention discrimination
Attribute impairment
Area goods and services
Outcome details

access to premises provided
policy change / change in practice

Year 1998

Summary: Equitable access for all residents and visitors to the Redland Shire Council has been considerably improved as a result of a conciliated agreement between the HUGI (Help Us Get In) Action Group and the Redland Shire Council.

HUGI Action Group complained of inequity in access to shops, business houses, Council owned or supported buildings and facilities.

The outcomes achieved through the conciliation process included significant improvements to buildings and facilities and general principles the Redland Shire Council have now incorporated into their policies in dealing with equity of access in the civic design process.

Although the conciliation and negotiation process took two years, the parties acknowledge that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 was the most effective vehicle for change.

The parties agreed to make the outcome of the complaint public.

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