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Discrimination in the Workplace

It is a cardinal rule of Industrial Relations that an employer is never to discriminate against an employee. What most employers fail to realise, however, is just how wide a scope the term discrimination actually has.

In its most basic form, discrimination is where a person or group is treated less favourably than others due to an identifiable attribute or characteristic. This can occur in both a direct and indirect manner.

Direct discrimination is where an employer treats an employee or a group of employees in a manner dissimilar to the treatment enjoyed by the rest of the workplace. For example, a school deciding not to hire male staff is a form of direct discrimination.

Contrast that with indirect discrimination, which is where a policy or requirement appears impartial however has the ultimate effect of placing a person or group of persons at a disadvantage. For example, if an employer requires that applicants be married, that would discriminate on grounds of marital status against those persons not married.

If you are worried that your polices and practices may fall under the umbrella of discrimination or you believe you may have been discriminated against, please feel free to call our Litigation team on 1300 428 947 or email at

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