- Complaint case studies


Sexual harassment in employment

Case 1
A woman felt a co-worker had bullied her and on overnight work trips had subjected her to unwelcome sexual banter and conduct of a sexual nature. She stated on several occasions he had coerced her into non-consensual sexual activity. She lodged a complaint of sexual harassment because she was dissatisfied with the speed at which the employer investigated her allegations. The alleged harasser also retained his job and was in regular contact with her at work.  She felt stressed because of this and of what had happened during the work trips.

The employer provided a letter of regret at the way the woman’s grievance was managed, and for not providing follow up support.  The employer also agreed to pay compensation of $20,000 to settle the complaint.

Case 2
A young man worked in the hospitality industry after leaving school.  He alleged sexual harassment when the owner of the business he worked for started sending him unwelcome texts and email messages of a sexual nature, and made unwelcome comments about the young man’s physique.  The conduct resulted in the young man developing a stress disorder, and negatively impacted on his ability to work.

The complaint resolved with a compensation payment of $10,000 for hurt, suffering and humiliation.

Pregnancy discrimination in employment

A woman worked as part of a team of systems administrators, all of whom were employed on fixed term contracts.  Shortly after she advised her employer she was pregnant, she was informed her contract would not be renewed and she learned all her co-workers had their contracts renewed.  She felt aggrieved at this less favourable treatment and alleged pregnancy discrimination. 

The matter resolved during conciliation with a payment of three months maternity leave. The woman was also placed back on the casual contractors list and was told she would be considered for re-employment when she was ready to return to work.

Impairment discrimination in goods and services

A woman lodged a complaint when she was advised her preschool daughter’s child care centre treated both her and her daughter differently after they learned the child had autism.  At one point the centre urged the parent to take the child to another centre.  The matter settled with compensation of $10,000 being paid for hurt and suffering and agreement staff would be provided with training on discrimination issues.

Family responsibility discrimination in employment

Case 1
When she was negotiating her employment contract a skilled medical professional with a preschool child stated she was unable to participate in a 24-hour roster because of her family responsibilities.  The employer agreed to provide shifts which were not after standard working hours.  However the woman was allocated shifts at worksites a long way from her home, which caused her to return home late in the evening. In addition, complications with handovers meant she was often unable to leave worksites until much later than planned. She raised these concerns but as nothing changed she lodged a complaint of family responsibility discrimination.

The employer apologised for the breakdown in the roster arrangements and provided compensation of $12,500 to resolve the complaint.

Case 2
A mother attended a job interview and was offered a position. When negotiating her work hours, she said her ideal work hours would allow for her to drop off and pick up her children from school.  She alleged family responsibility discrimination when she was told, some weeks later, the employer was awarding the job to an applicant, who could work a full working day.  The matter resolved in conciliation with the woman being awarded compensation of $7,500 and an apology.

Impairment discrimination in employment

A man working in the construction industry, alleged impairment discrimination after he was made redundant following a back injury at work.  A settlement was reached in conciliation where the man was compensated with an ex gratia payment of $14,000 and provided with a statement of service.

Age discrimination in employment

A 53-year-old man was employed as a truck driver.  At the job interview he was told because of his age he was required to have an annual medical examination.  The man lodged a complaint of age discrimination as none of the other younger drivers were required to have regular medicals.  At the conciliation conference, the company agreed the requirement of annual tests was unreasonable and agreed to withdraw the requirement.


Race discrimination in employment

A man with dark skin worked for a security company mostly on day shifts because of medication he was taking for a work-related injury. The company was taken over and all staff were to work on a rotational shift, including night work and because of this the man alleged race and impairment discrimination. The complainant was dismissed when the man was unable to provide any evidence that he was unable to comply with the requirement to participate in rotating shift work because of his race or his impairment.


Age discrimination in employment

A man alleged he was refused an opportunity to be a football umpire because of his age.  He withdrew his complaint when he was shown that in his region, other people of a similar age and older, were engaged as umpires.