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Employment

Equal opportunity law applies to full time, part time, casual, contract and voluntary work. It covers all stages of employment, from job advertisements, applications and offers of employment to promotions, training, transfers and dismissal.

Female worker not strong enough?

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A female complainant, Sarah, worked in a male dominated industry and was the only female worker in her area. Sarah was training to take a development course that would allow her to be promoted to a different area.

Outcome: 
At conciliation conference, the organisation agreed to pay Sarah compensation of $3,750, apologise and to review the course requirements.

Sudanese man labelled a terrorist

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Gabriel, a Sudanese man, worked for a metropolitan manufacturer.  He overheard his boss, Andrew, and other workers say that he was a terrorist.  He confronted Andrew soon afterwards, telling him he was a refugee from a war-torn country and was very upset by being called a terrorist.

When Gabriel made a complaint of race discrimination, Andrew denied calling him a terrorist.  However, Gabriel said that he could identify other workers who heard him.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, Andrew agreed to apologise to Gabriel for any distress he suffered at work, personally deliver a copy of the company's policies on discrimination and harassment to each employee, and provide all employees training sessions on discrimination and harassment.

Health centre volunteer not able to apply for paid position

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Sylvana worked as a volunteer at a metropolitan community health centre.  After five years service, she was told she was no longer required.  Her job was being changed to a paid position that only Aboriginal people could apply for.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the health centre's management agreed to provide a written apology to Sylvana, acknowledging the impact of poor communication processes that took place and thanking her for her years of service. They also agreed to talk to Dorothy about how she spoke to Sylvana, and to improve communication with volunteers generally.

Applications accepted from Aboriginals only

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Margaret made a race discrimination complaint after seeing a job advertisement for an Indigenous Advisor in a university.  It invited applications only from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so, because of her race, she was precluded from applying.

Outcome: 
Margaret reached a negotiated settlement with the university.

Supervisor makes offensive comments about colour of skin

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Bob, an Aboriginal, was a utility worker in a coal mine.  He alleged that his supervisor, Sergiu, made racially offensive comments about colour of his skin, and mockingly questioned him in front of others about whether he received Aboriginal loans.  Not long after, Bob and another colleague walked into the control room where the cricket was on TV.  Sergiu yelled out from his office, "Look at that black c___!", referring to a black English cricket umpire.  Bob believed this was said for no other reason than because he had arrived.

Outcome: 
Results of conciliation included a commitment by management to undertake an initiative to improve the communication and interpersonal skills of supervisors, Sergiu receiving appropriate discipline and payment to Bob of $150, for expenses associated with the conciliation conference.

Chef makes offensive comments about terrorism to an Iranian staff member

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Habib, an Iranian, worked in a metropolitan restaurant.  Roderick, the new casual chef, asked him in the kitchen if he was the cousin of one of the London Bombers, because of his religion and colour of his skin and hair.  Habib said it was not funny and left the kitchen, feeling humiliated, insulted and disgusted.

Habib notified management, but they pressured him to resolve informally and did not take the complaint seriously, until he advised that he would make a complaint to the union and the Equal Opportunity Commission.

Outcome: 
Negotiation by phone led to the restaurant agreeing to pay Habib $1,000.

Hours cut after returning from work injury

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Due to an injury during his full time contract work as a removalist, Brian had been on WorkCover for two years.  He was given clearance to go back to work but Paul, his boss, now only gave him as few as eight hours a week.  Brian tried to discuss the situation with Paul, but he felt he was evasive and Brian couldn't get a straight answer out of him.

He made a complaint of impairment discrimination.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, Brian accepted Paul's offer to pay him $2,000 for economic loss.

Lisa refused volunteer work as an ambulance officer because of medication

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Lisa felt she was refused volunteer work with a regional ambulance service because she is on medication and could not obtain an unrestricted driver's licence.  Thus, she was allowed an 'attend-only' role.  The general manager, Michael, then refused to accept her even in this role, saying that attendant personnel put too much pressure on other volunteer officers in times of heavy workload.

Outcome: 
The complaint was conciliated. The service management arranged for a discussion to be held between its Chief Medical Officer and Lisa's specialist to determine whether she met the standards for Commercial Vehicle Driving. Her specialist believed that Lisa's condition did not affect her ability to meet the standards for Commercial Vehicle Driving, but recommended that she did not seek work in an environment that involves shift work, night work or disruptive timetables. Michael agreed to process Lisa's application to become a volunteer ambulance officer without delay, and accept her as a volunteer ambulance officer subject to her meeting the selection criteria for volunteer officers.

WorkCover claim disadvantages job applicant

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Laurence applied for position with a large metropolitan bus company, and he was asked to supply his WorkCover medical files.  He failed the interview because he was unable to do a sit-up with his hands across his chest, however, he felt he was given no tests relevant to driving a bus, such as hearing, eyesight or driving. 

Laurence noted that the only applicants required to do these physical tests were those who had been on WorkCover.

Outcome: 
The complaint was conciliated with Laurence being prepared to lose weight to 120kg, as required by the company. He requested an exercise routine to assist him. On this basis, the company agreed to offer him full-time employment as a bus driver.

Experienced caterer refused catering job because of a previous injury

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Sherrie had a past injury but had been working in catering for many years.  However, she was refused a catering job at a city sports event, allegedly because of this injury.

She made a complaint of impairment discrimination to the Commission.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the company agreed to pay Sherrie $500 and provided her both with a written apology and written feedback regarding her concerns.