Discovering People

Essential legislation for employers

Part one: Anti discrimination

With Australia having the second highest incidence of litigation worldwide, it has become increasingly important for employers to understand current employment legislation. I recently attended a seminar presented by Jane Seymour, a senior associate from Blake Dawson Waldron Lawyers, on the subject of essential legislation for employers. It highlighted the need for employers to be aware of current legislation. Employees are now more likely to seek legal advice when they believe they have been discriminated against and quite often the law leans in the direction of the employee. Included below is some information about current anti discrimination legislation:

Under several acts including the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act and the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act.

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of their;

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Pregnancy and or potential pregnancy
  • Family responsibilities
  • Race, colour, ethnic or religious background
  • Marital status
  • Physical, mental, intellectual, psychiatric impairment-disability
  • Homosexuality
  • People with Aids/HIV
  • Transgender
  • Irrelevant medical or criminal record

Direct Discrimination

This occurs when an employer treats an employee or potential employee less favourably or unequally because they have a certain status or belong to a particular group of people.  Some examples of direct discrimination may be - a person of a particular ethnic group is refused employment based purely on their ethnic origin.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination can be more subtle and may occur when:

  1. a person must comply with some requirement and they are unable to do so because of their status,
  2. a substantially higher proportion of persons of a different status can comply because of their status,
  3. the condition imposed is not reasonable.

This may occur when someone cannot wear the standard uniform due to a religious reason.

Written by Denise Leanfore B.Psych. (Hons) – Recruitment Consultant


If you have any questions, human resources issues to discuss or would like to give any feedback in regards to this newsletter, please don't hesitate to email me -

Michelle Novotny

Managing Director

Discovering People