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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.

Santa Claus told not to wear glasses for photos with the children

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Cecil worked as a Santa Claus for a large metropolitan department store.  He was asked if he could work without his glasses because they "were playing up with the photos".  Cecil refused as he could not see without his glasses.  When he asked whether he could go back on the next shift, he was told he couldn't.

He made a complaint of impairment discrimination to the Commission.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the complaint was settled with a payment to Cecil of $600.

Registered nurse told she was an injury risk and that there was no work for her

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Ruth was a registered nurse working in a metropolitan hospital.  She walked with a limp because of a history of Multiple Sclerosis.  She was transferred to another hospital and, after three shifts, was called in by Anne, her supervisor, and told she was an injury risk because of her limp and that they couldn't find other work for her.

Ruth said that she had been working at the previous hospital for three years and her limp or history of MS has never been a problem there.

She made a complaint of impairment discrimination.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the hospital produced a written apology to Ruth.

Paid Parental Leave Scheme passed

Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity (SA), Anne Burgess, welcomed the announcement yesterday of a long awaited Paid Parental Leave scheme for Australian men and women.

The government funded scheme, which was passed yesterday by Federal parliament, will provide up to 18 weeks paid leave to eligible parents for children born or adopted after 1 January 2011. Eligible parents will be paid the National Minimum Wage (currently $570 per week).

Disability discrimination

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Aired on: 
Radio Adelaide

Equal Opportunity Commission staff member Robyn Dwight interviewed by Errol Crouch and Grant Lucas on ‘Roundabout,’ about disability discrimination at work and during recruitment

I have just been sacked, can you help me?

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We can help if you were dismissed because of unlawful discrimination or harassment. If not, you should seek advice from another agency. If you want reinstatement, it is important that you act quickly because strict time limits (21 days) apply for unfair dismissal through the Fair Work Commission.

Can female employees be required to wear skirts or dresses?

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No. Not allowing female staff to wear trousers is sex discrimination.

Can I insist that all men be clean shaven and cut their hair short?

A blanket requirement that all male staff be clean shaven may discriminate against some people. It is unlawful to prevent someone from having appearance or wearing religious dress in accordance with their religious beliefs in work or study. For example, some Sikh men do not shave in accordance with religious beliefs. Similarly, requiring men to keep their hair cut short may result in sex discrimination.

Can I specify that tattoos are not to be shown in the workplace?

Yes, you can in most cases. Tattoos are not specifically covered by equal opportunity laws. However, it is important to note that for some racial groups, tattoos may hold particular cultural significance (e.g., Maoris).

Can I request that earrings, piercings, rings and other jewellery be removed?

In general, you can. Any restrictions on the wearing of earrings and other jewellery should be applied equally to both men and women. However, allowances need to be made for people who wear adornments of religious significance - for example, bangles worn by Sikh men, or crucifixes worn by Christians.

Can I terminate someone's employment once they reach 65 years of age?

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No. There is no compulsory retirement age in South Australia.  Forcing staff to retire at 65 is now prohibited by age discrimination laws.

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