Workplace discrimination a serious issue

Date: Nov 15, 2012

Discrimination in the workplace is an issue that the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) takes very seriously.

The FWO recently prosecuted an accountancy firm based in Wagga, NSW, after it was found to have unfairly dismissed a former employee because she had a mental illness.

The company is to pay nearly $18,000 in compensation to the employee. It has also been ordered to spend $6,000 over two years on improving workplace relations, specifically by training managers and leaders.

According to a FWO report, the employee is receiving compensation for the “stress, hurt, humiliation, embarrassment and injury to feelings” she suffered as a result of her employer’s actions.

It is alleged that the firm excluded her from training sessions and meetings and refused her requests for a support person. This behaviour eventually culminated in her unfair dismissal. The workplace was not prepared to make necessary adjustments to accommodate her mental disability.


FWO Nicholas Wilson said that his team takes discrimination of this sort very seriously.

“Allegations made to the FWO about discrimination in the workplace are concerning and where they fall within our jurisdiction, we will investigate them, and where appropriate, we will take action,” Mr Wilson said in a statement.

Anyone who has been the victim of this type of discrimination may also want to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer.

There are lawyers in Sydney who can help you make a claim for compensation should your case be eligible.

Examples of workplace discrimination include being treated unfairly or unprofessionally based on pregnancy, race, colour, gender, physical or mental disability, marital status, age, political opinion and more.

Mr Wilson believes that there is an increasing need for employers to learn to be more tolerant and open to different cultures and people as Australia welcomes more workers from overseas.

He also thinks that the ageing workforce will mean there are plenty of different people within the workplace.

“As we age, our demographics change and Australia’s workplaces become increasingly diverse, there can be no place for telling people they have to go because they are pregnant or because they are perceived as past retirement age or because their language or religion doesn’t fit with yours… and there can be no place for tolerance of sexual or other harassment,” Mr Wilson asserted.

Employers may like to take this time to familiarise themselves with employment law and ensure that their managers and leaders are treating their staff in an appropriate manner.

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