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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.

I want to employ an attractive woman with four years' experience aged between 25 and 35 as a receptionist for my business. Why can't I advertise for this person if I want to?


It is not against the law to discriminate on the basis of appearance, but it is unlawful to discriminate in employment on the basis of a person's age, caring responsibilities, chosen gender, disability, marital or domestic partnership status, pregnancy, race, religious appearance or dress, sex, sexuality, or their spouse or partner's identity

Can I reduce the hours of my employees when they are old enough to move from youth to adult award wages?


Reducing a person's hours or changing their conditions of work because of their age could result in a complaint of age discrimination being made against you.

Can I ask if someone applying for a job has had a previous WorkCover claim?


It is better to ask whether they have any existing or prior injuries that would affect their ability to do the job. This is because a job applicant who answers 'yes' to this question and is refused employment, could make a complaint of disability discrimination.

Can I be held responsible for acts of discrimination and harassment if I use a recruitment agency to find my employees?


You may be, depending upon the instructions you give to the recruitment consultant, and who is responsible for the actions which are thought to be discriminatory.

When placing a job ad in the paper or online, can I specify the age and sex of the person I'm looking for?


In general, no. You should instead advertise the skills, abilities, experience or qualifications required. If an award exists which allows junior rates of pay, you may be able to advertise for a junior, but not specify their age. If you think the job can only be done by someone of a particular age or sex you may need to apply for an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Tribunal before advertising.

Do equal opportunity laws apply to unfair dismissal?


Yes, but only if the decision to fire a worker is unfair and discriminatory.

Can I insist upon standards of appearance, such as hairstyle or earrings?

Generally yes, provided the standards are applied equally to men and women and are clearly linked to the requirements of the business. We also encourage you to be sensitive to particular cultural dress requirements. It is unlawful to prevent someone from having appearance or wearing religious dress in accordance with their religious beliefs in work or study.

Young woman with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome let go from her job


Kylie has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  She was offered a job as a veterinary nurse in a metropolitan practice, and the business accepted her knowing she had this disability.  However, after three weeks her job was terminated.  Kylie alleged that they told her they would have to "let her go" because the impairment was affecting her work.

At conciliation, Sarah made a apology for any undue stress, humiliation or injury to feelings Kylie may have suffered, and provided her with a written reference.

Isobel threatened with her job after injuring her back


Isobel worked for a community service in a regional area. She had a back injury affecting some movement, but her employer was aware of this. Recently, she was told she must undertake a Senior First Aid Certificate in order to keep her position.  However, part of the assessment for obtaining the Certificate requires candidates to demonstrate CPR for two minutes on a demonstration mannequin while the mannequin is on the floor.  Isobel's injury prevents her from performing CPR in this way.

The complaint was resolved by the service providing an adjusted assessment to accommodate Isobel's impairment, and she was granted an unrestricted First Aid Certificate.

Job title changes after taking time off for health reasons


Bill worked at a large defence company in Adelaide.  His role was changed from senior production engineer to production engineer of minor projects and he felt this was because he took time off for health reasons due to a skin condition.

He made a complaint of disability discrimination to the Commission.

The complaint was resolved without a conciliation conference being held. The company agreed to provide a written apology on letterhead acknowledging that the organisation could have handled the transfer process more appropriately. Bill accepted this offer, as he was content with his new position.
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