Not all kinds of discrimination are against the law.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984, only particular types of discrimination occurring in certain places are against the law. These are called 'grounds'.
Age discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their age. It applies to any age.
Indirect age discrimination is treatment which appears to be equal, but is unfair on certain people because of their age. To be unlawful it must be unreasonable.
South Australian law also covers discrimination by superannuation providers because of a person’s age.
Association with a child discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly in customer service because they have a child with them or need to feed a child (including breast and bottle-feeding).
It also occurs where a person is treated unfavourably when renting accommodation, on the basis that they have a child.
It is also unlawful for a school, college, TAFE or university to treat a student unfavourably in her education because she is breastfeeding.
Caring responsibilities discrimination is treating people unfairly because they have a responsibility to care for a child or an immediate family member who is in need of care and support.
Immediate family members include:
- a spouse or domestic partner (including exes)
- parents, grandparents, siblings, adult children or grandchildren
- corresponding relatives of one's spouse or domestic partner (in-laws).
An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person also has caring responsibilities if they have responsibilities to care for and support any person to whom they are related under applicable kinship rules.
It is unlawful to treat a person unfairly because they have caring responsibilities (direct discrimination) or to set requirements that are especially difficult for carers to meet and are unreasonable (indirect discrimination).
It is also unlawful to treat someone unfairly because of assumptions made about carers (e.g that they will be late for work or that their mind will not be on the job).
Disability discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their disability. It includes treatment which appears to be equal but is unfair on certain people because of their disability. For this treatment to be unlawful it must also be unreasonable.
See Disability discrimination for more.
By law, all assistance animals including guide dogs for seeing, hearing or mobility, must be allowed to accompany their owners into premises and use facilities that are open to the public, even into eating areas.
It is also against the law to treat another person, i.e. a relative, friend or carer of the owner of an assistance animal unfairly because they are with the owner and their assistance animal.
It is also an offence for someone (for example a person who is running a café) to require the owner of an assistance animal to be separated from their assistance animal. A maximum penalty of $2,500 applies.
For more information on assistance dogs and the law in SA, visit the Dog and Cat Management Board website.
A therapeutic animal will usually be an animal certified by a medical practitioner to assist a person living with disability. They are different from an assistance animal.
In South Australia, it is against the law to refuse, an application for accommodation, put off an application or place an applicant lower down on a list of preferred applicants, if they plan to keep a therapeutic animal at that accommodation.
It covers all applications for accommodation, the terms and conditions placed on the accommodation and waiting lists. It includes all forms of rental accommodation (houses, units, rooms for rent), staying in hotels, hostels, motels or caravan parks.
In some circumstances this will not apply if the person renting the accommodation establishes the refusal was reasonable.
Gender identity discrimination is treating people unfairly because of the way they identify or express their individual sense of gender through appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics.
This may include adopting characteristics of another sex, or not identifying with any sex.
Equal opportunity law provides protection from discrimination to people who identify as male, female or neither. It does not matter what sex the person was assigned at birth or whether the person has undergone any medical intervention.
Intersex discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the same opportunities, as others in the same or similar situation, because the person has physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:
- neither wholly female or wholly male; or
- a combination of female and male; or
- neither female nor male.
Marital status discrimination is treating people unfairly because they are:
- living together with a partner.
Pregnancy discrimination is treating women unfairly because they are or may become pregnant.
Women have the right to work while pregnant and to be treated the same as other workers unless there are good medical reasons for different treatment.
Race discrimination is treating people unfairly because of their race, which includes their colour, country of birth, ancestry, or nationality. It is also racial discrimination to treat people unfairly because of the race of their relatives, friends or workmates.
South Australian law also covers discrimination of people because of race by superannuation providers.
Religious dress or appearance discrimination is treating people unfairly because they wear clothes or adornments that are required by or symbolic of their religion. The protection applies at work, when applying for a job, and also when studying.
It does not apply in other situations usually covered by equal opportunity law, such as in the supply of goods or the provision of services. Nor does it apply at a religious school where the student wants to wear dress or adornments of a different religion.
Discrimination includes treating the person less favourably than others because of the person's dress. It also includes asking them to alter their appearance or remove the religious dress.
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.
Sexual orientation discrimination is treating people unfairly because they identify as:
- same sex attracted
It also includes someone's past sexual orientation and making assumptions about someone's sexual orientation.
Spouse or partner's identity discrimination is treating people unfairly because of who their spouse or domestic partner is. It also covers ex-spouses and ex-partners.
This is different from marital status discrimination.
A person treated unfairly because they are divorced or because they are living in a same-sex relationship experiences discrimination on the ground of marital status.
A person treated unfairly because their spouse or partner is unpopular for example, experiences discrimination on the ground of their spouse's identity.
There are some situations where it is lawful to take account of who a person's spouse is. Sometimes it is reasonable or necessary to treat the person differently - to preserve confidentiality, to avoid a conflict of interest, to avoid nepotism or to protect anyone's health or safety.