Balancing the Act: ADCQ newsletter -

Legal update Winter 2013

Law on sex workers now clear

A recent decision of the Court of Appeal (Dovedeen Pty Ltd v GK [2013] QCA 116) Link to external websitehas clarified the meaning of the term 'lawful sexual activity' in its context as a protected attribute under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 . The term is defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act to mean 'a person's status as a lawfully employed sex worker, whether or not self-employed'. The attribute is confined to a person being (or having been) a lawful sex worker by occupation, and does not include the performance of sex work.

An amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Act that took effect from 1 November 2012 specifically states that accommodation providers can discriminate where the accommodation is intended to be used in connection with sex work. The effect of the Court of Appeal decision clarifies that this was the law before the amendment.

Record payout for race discrimination

George Barney, a residential care officer who assists people with a disability, has been awarded the highest amount of damages ever for a race discrimination complaint under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act.

Mr Barney, a descendent of the Butchulla tribe, went on sick leave after he found out that co-worker Ms Petersen had made comments about his race to colleagues and refused to work with him because he is a "black fella".

When Ms Petersen was directed to apologise, she again made reference to Mr Barney's race. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) found that Ms Petersen's comments 'significantly caused' the complainant's depression and anxiety, as did her failure to apologise appropriately.

After a five-day hearing in late 2012, QCAT found that Ms Petersen had treated Mr Barney 'less favourably' by making  racial comments and refusing to work with him. The complaint of race discrimination was upheld, and the respondents ordered to pay the complainant a total of $76,704.81, comprising $40,000 for general damages, $8,416 interest on general damages, $21,089 past economic loss, $2,779.56 past superannuation and $4,423.25 for interest on past economic loss.

Barney v State Of Queensland and Anor [2012] QCAT 695 Link to external website (1 November 2012).

This decision was affirmed on appeal to the QCAT Appeal Panel.