What defines workplace harassment and discrimination?

Harassment involves unwelcome behaviour that intimidates, offends or humiliates a person because of a particular personal characteristic such as race, age, gender, disability, religion or sexuality.

Sexual harass­ment includes sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails, displaying offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers, and asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including their sex life.

Discrimination occurs when there is a breach of either State or Fed­eral statutes. The usual areas for discriminatory conduct include:

  • Failure to hire someone because of their race, religion, age, sex or sexuality: failure to treat them equally at work: failure to promote equally and terminating workers unfairly because they are ‘different’
  • Discriminating against women because of pregnancy
  • Discriminating against a person who has family responsibilities
  • Making discriminatory allegations in relating to a person’s abilities.

What to do if it occurs

If allegations of harassment or discriminatory conduct occur in the workplace, you should seek immediate legal advice.

If the matters are not resolved at an initial conciliation, the matter can then be taken to either a State or Federal Court where you can claim damages and even loss of income. These cases are complicated and difficult and can take a significant amount of time.

Any allegations of discrimination or harassment need to be considered properly. There is a duty to ensure that those allegations are investigated and that the workplace is safe.

If you’re being harassed or discriminated against, it’s really important that you seek advice immediately. The sooner you do, the sooner the matter can be resolved.

John Morrissey

John Morrissey

T: +61 2 9331 0266
E: john.morrissey@jfmlaw.com.au

John Morrissey has been a practising Sydney solicitor for 30 years, and for the past 20 a sole practitioner and the principal at JFMLAW.

His main focus employment law, advising small to medium-sized firms and their employees of their rights and obligations.

For many years he was a lecturer at UTS to students obtaining Masters in Human Resources Management with a focus on performance management and creating a culture of delivery in workplaces. John has acted for a significant number of employers, not only in developing a performance based culture in the workplace but also solving particular problems that arise relating to unfair dismissal, contract disputes, improper use of intellectual property or other property as well as enforcements of restraints of trade.

John is very happy to speak to any employer who has an issue on a free of charge basis by a phone call. Please feel free to ring John at anytime up to 6pm most days.
John Morrissey