Discrimination in the workplace
Maurice Blackburn employment lawyers help people who have suffered discrimination in the workplace, including being dismissed, demoted, disadvantaged, bullied or treated badly. If you think you are being subjected to either direct or indirect discrimination at work, we can help you pursue your rights and claim compensation for lost income, hurt, distress, pain and suffering.
Our workplace discrimination success stories
Maurice Blackburn is Australia’s leading employment law practice for executives, senior managers, employees and contractors. Here are some examples of our successful cases:
- Initiated proceedings in the Federal Court on behalf of Scott McIntyre alleging that he was dismissed by SBS because of his expression of a political opinion.
- Successfully negotiated a six figure settlement for a woman employed in a senior position by a large multinational company. She was terminated after making complaints about discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, despite having an exceptional performance record.
- Commenced Federal Court proceedings and successfully resolved a claim for an employee who had been dismissed and subject to discrimination due to his workplace injury.
- Successfully negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement for a senior executive employed in the property industry who was unlawfully discriminated against after taking a period of parental leave.
- Successfully obtained an injunction for our client Nicole McIntyre, in McIntyre v Hastings Deering (Australia) Ltd and Anor  QCAT 438. Her employer had attempted to change her working hours, which would have had adverse effects on her family responsibilities meaning she would have to resign. The injunction was ordered against her employer, restraining it from changing her working hours until her complaint about the alleged discrimination was resolved.
- Successfully resolved a discrimination case on behalf of a Senior Victorian police officer dismissed for discriminatory reasons.
- Obtained an injunction preventing a hospital from continuing with a performance management plan on the basis that it would have unlawfully discriminated against our client because of his ADHD. The matter was ultimately resolved to the client’s satisfaction.
While most of our clients' cases are resolved promptly and discreetly via negotiations, we also have an excellent record of successful dispute resolutions in discrimination matters. This may include making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or a relevant State authority. We can assist you in choosing the right jurisdiction and guide you through the complaints process. Our highly experienced employment lawyers are recognised for excellence in Doyle’s ‘Guide to the Australian Legal Profession’.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is workplace discrimination?
There are laws throughout Australia which prohibit discrimination based on protected attributes, including attributes such as sex, race, disability and age. Discriminating against someone at work can include dismissing or demoting an employee, denying an employee access to opportunities or subjecting the employee to any other detriment because of their protected attribute.
Workplace discrimination can happen to employees, managerial staff and executives at any level. Our expert employment lawyers have successfully acted for employees who have been discriminated against because of their gender, pregnancy, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, race and disability.
Is my employer required to make adjustments for me?
In some circumstances your employer may have a positive obligation to accommodate you. For example, your employer might have an obligation to accommodate you if you have a disability, impairment or injury, in order to assist you to do your job.
These obligations can extend to employers allowing flexible working arrangements to accommodate carer's responsibilities. For example, if you are a parent or carer your employer might have an obligation to allow you to work from home on particular days. If your employer refuses, it could amount to workplace discrimination.
What should I do if I am being discriminated against at work?
In addition to seeking legal advice, there are a number of things you should do:
- Keep a diary. Take notes of all discriminatory treatment, including when it happens and who the perpetrator is.
- Be informed. Make sure you have a copy of your contract of employment, enterprise agreement and workplace policies and procedures.
- If you are a union member, contact your union. Many unions are experienced in dealing with workplace discrimination..
- Speak to your OH&S representative. Get advice about procedures in your workplace.
- Address the situation early. Employees who are subject to discrimination often put the issue to one side and wait before it gets really bad before addressing it. By this time the employee may have already suffered a work related stress injury; if this is the case, they may not be able to continue working.
- Take care of your health. Your mental and physical health is very important. If workplace discrimination, bullying or harassment is affecting you, make sure you see your doctor about it.
- Seek advice. Working out which legal or practical decisions to make can be difficult with workplace discrimination cases. We can provide support and advice on a range of legal and personal matters.
Josh BornsteinNational Head of Employment Law, Melbourne
"When the forces of darkness are on your back, you want Josh at your side," Julian Burnside QC
Experts in Employment law
Our team has an outstanding record of achieving terrific outcomes for employees in both the private and public sector. We assist our clients with a combination of strategy, tenacity and compassion.
Call us on 1800 810 812 to book an initial consultation. Your first consultation costs $690 (incl GST).
At your one hour consult our lawyers will provide advice on your situation, the best action to take, and next steps. This consult is charged at a fixed fee.
Most of our cases are resolved out of court, and discretion is assured.