What is workplace discrimination?

Discrimination is treating a person ‘unfavourably’ because of a protected personal attribute/characteristic they possess (e.g. because of their gender, or sexual orientation or religion).

In Victoria, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 sets out 18 personal characteristics that make discrimination in employment against the law. Federal anti-discrimination laws also apply to Victorian employers.

Being treated differently by someone at work is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. Some different treatment such as a manager undertaking performance management of a subordinate may not be unlawful discrimination. Nor is assigning less desirable tasks or an arguably unreasonable workload or timeframe for completion. In terms of the relevant workplace legislation, an action is only considered unlawful discrimination if it occurs because of one or more of the above attributes (race, sex, age, disability, etc). If this is not the basis of the action, it may not be considered an act of unlawful discrimination.


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