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Sex

Sex discrimination is treating people unfairly because they are either male or female. Indirect sex discrimination is treatment which appears to be equal but is unfair on certain people because of their sex. To be unlawful it must be unreasonable.

Refused maternity leave for second pregnancy

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Eleni worked for a business consultant. She went on maternity leave but, before she was due to return, she told her employers that she was pregnant again and would only be returning to work for ten weeks. She requested an extension to her maternity leave, but didn't get a response from them straight away. She emailed seven more times asking what was happening, and each time she was told that the manager was waiting on a response from HR.

Outcome: 
During conciliation, the complaint was settled when the company agreed to give Eleni a positive statement of service, and pay her $9,750 for general damages for hurt feelings.

Sacked for being pregnant and unmarried

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Denise was eleven weeks pregnant when she started working for a religious organisation. Two weeks later, she told the organisation that she was pregnant. Her manager asked whether she had set a wedding date, because she was unmarried. When she said she hadn't, she was told that she should have a wedding date because it didn't look good working for a church organisation and not being married. Her employment was terminated.

Outcome: 
When the organisation was contacted after Denise made a complaint to the Commission, they said that they would offer her an apology and a job reference. She was satisfied with this response, and the complaint was concluded.

Back from maternity leave to a dead-end, backwater job

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Christine worked as a rehabilitation coordinator for a domiciliary care service. About to return from maternity leave, she contacted her manager about returning part time, which was agreed to before she went on leave. But she was now told by her manager that she could not work part time if she stayed in her previous role; instead, she would be moved to a part time ‘Service Coordinator’ role in a part time capacity. Christine saw this is as a backwards step, limiting her career development opportunities and becoming de-skilled.

Outcome: 
As a result of conciliation, the service looked again and found a position in a centre closer to where Christine lived. They also agreed to build her management and leadership skills in her part time position, and give her the right to return to her former position when she was able to work full time.

Young woman at trade school not given the same opportunity

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Kirsty was studying towards a certificate in the construction trades. However, her Placement Officer, Gerald, did not help her find either employment or placement avenues in welding, although such support was provided to male students.  Gerald offered to give his mobile number to the male students, advising he would continue to look for employment for them, and would call them if "something came up".  However, Gerald walked away without asking for Kirsty's phone number.

She made a complaint to the Commission of discrimination on the ground of sex.

Outcome: 
No conciliation conference was held, and time was spent instead negotiating with the parties. The complaint was eventually settled, with Gerald offering Kirsty a private apology.

Ladies Night at the pub leaves the boys out

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Alberto complained that the practice of 'Ladies Night' – where female patrons at a metropolitan nightclub were given free admission to the dance club, to competitions and to gifts only accessible to females – discriminated against males on the ground of sex.

Outcome: 
In future, the club agreed not to specifically offer promotions to one sex and not the other. Alberto was satisfied with the club's response of giving a promise to correct future advertising.

No Girls with you? No entry!

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Darcy went to a metropolitan lounge bar with a few male friends.  There were two lines in front of the venue.  He and his friends were asked to join the line closest to the building, while female patrons or couples used the adjacent line.  About 30 people from the latter line, who arrived after Darcy, were let in before he and his friends.

They were told by the guard, "Next time bring females. It's not our policy to let males in without being accompanied by females - it looks bad for the hotel".

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the bar's management acknowledged that it should not discriminate against men by refusing or deferring entry into their lounge bar, and agreed to inform security staff that males cannot be refused entry or have their entry deferred because they are male. On his side, Darcy acknowledged that people can be refused entry for reasons other than their sex.

Senior executive questioned about rumours of sexual relationships

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Judith was a senior executive with a health service.  She felt that she was subject to discrimination on the ground of sex when the chairperson of her Board, Ida, asked her questions about intimate relationships she was rumoured to have had with men that Ida knew, and made other comments to her of a personal nature.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, Ida provided Judith with a written apology. Also, mediation was arranged between her and Ida, and the service would comply with its policies and procedures that relate to equal opportunity and grievance handling. The organisation would not cite Judith's complaint as a cause of the relationship breakdown between she and Ida, and would not use the complaint in assessing her performance within the organisation.

Same-sex couple refused hotel manager jobs

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Kevin and Todd, in a same-sex relationship, applied for a position as a Hotel Managing Couple for a hotel in an Adelaide suburb.  The hotel owner appeared keen to appoint them, but cancelled the interview at the last minute making a comment about "wanting a woman behind the desk".  Todd had flown from Sydney for the interview.

Outcome: 
At conciliation, the hotel owner agreed to pay for Todd's flight from Sydney.

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.