14 March 2017

Update: Workplace Discrimination

The New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“Tribunal”) has recently awarded an employee $24,000.00 in compensation on the basis that her employer discriminated against her after she contracted tuberculosis.  Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics, symptoms may include coughing and fatigue.

The Tribunal held that the employee had been treated less favourably than a hypothetical employee without the ‘disability’ under the workplace policies.  This unfavourable treatment consisted of being pressured to take unpaid leave, being unduly performance managed and being pressured to resign.

In addition to being awarded a sum for her economic loss in taking unpaid leave, the Tribunal also awarded $10,000.00 in compensation for the detriment to the employee’s sense of self and wellbeing.  The fact that the employer had offered a separation package did not influence the Tribunal when calculating the quantum of the compensation.

This decision is a timely reminder to both employers and employees of the wide reaching application of anti-discrimination legislation.  In Queensland, discrimination is prohibited against the following attributes:

  • sex;
  • relationship status;
  • pregnancy;
  • parental status;
  • breastfeeding;
  • age;
  • race;
  • impairment (which includes disease or illness);
  • religious belief or religious activity;
  • political belief or activity;
  • trade union activity;
  • gender identity;
  • sexuality;
  • family responsibilities; or
  • association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes.

At Miller Harris Lawyers we have a dedicated team of employment lawyers who can assist both employers and employees to understand their respective rights and obligations in the workplace.  We can also assist in preparing appropriate internal policies and practices to minimise the risk of discrimination claims arising.

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