Complaint case studies

Age discrimination in the area of goods, services and facilities

WA residents born before 1957 can apply for a Seniors Card at 62 years of age and receive the subsidies and benefits which accrue from this card. People born after 1957 have to wait till they are over 63 years of age before they can apply for the card.

A man born after 1957 alleged age discrimination because of this sliding eligibility scale. He withdrew his complaint when advised the WA Equal Opportunity Act provided a defence against his allegation, as it allowed for “bonafide benefits, including concessions provided to a person by reason of (their) age”.

Outcome: When advised of the legal defence to this allegation, the complainant withdrew the complaint.

Breastfeeding discrimination in the area of employment

A woman alleged that after she returned to work from maternity leave her employer was not supportive of her decision to express milk during work hours. She said she needed to express milk in order to have sufficient milk available to feed her baby.  In addition, the woman said her manager had made inappropriate and insensitive comments concerning her decision to express milk.

Outcome:  The employer agreed to communicate to employees that the business is a breastfeeding friendly workspace. They confirmed the woman would be supported and entitled to express milk during her breaks, could reasonably extend rest breaks if required, and make up time at end of shift.

The employer agreed to arrange supported mediation between the woman and her manager.

Impairment discrimination in the area of employment

After being away from work on workers compensation for a lengthy period of time, a woman attempted to return to work.

The woman alleged impairment discrimination when her employer did not allow the return to work.  The employer disputed impairment discrimination as the woman had signed off on her workers compensation, and as part of that agreement she freely and knowingly resigned from her employment.  This was disputed by the complainant, but the workers compensation documentation was signed and dated by her.

Outcome: The complaint was dismissed as lacking in substance given the evidence of the agreement.

Impairment discrimination in the area of employment

An experienced and truck driver with a neurological disorder had his condition stabilised with medication prescribed by his psychiatrist.

He applied for a job driving heavy vehicles at a mine site, and disclosed he took prescription medication for his condition. He successfully passed all fitness and other recruitment processes and was advised he had the job subject to passing a final medical clearance. He was then asked to provide a urine sample, which registered positive due to the prescribed medication he was taking. A doctor reviewed the test and said he ‘couldn’t determine conclusively if the positive reading was because of the prescription medication, or due to illicit drugs’. The driver provided further proof his prescription medicine was causing the positive urine reading, but due to the confusion over the urine sample, he could not get clearance to work on the mine site and for this reason the truck company withdrew the offer of employment.

Outcome: The employer apologised, agreed to pay compensation of $25,000, and to provide future references for a job.

Impairment discrimination in the area of employment

A woman alleged after working for the respondent for decades in one location she applied for a similar position within the same organisation in a different location. She was told she had been successful. Shortly afterwards, the employer allegedly discovered the woman had previous medical issues, and the job offer was withdrawn.

Outcome: At the conciliation conference the employer provided an apology and agreed to pay compensation of $10,000.

Impairment discrimination in the area of employment

A worker with a physical impairment had a valid ACROD parking permit but was denied access to an ACROD parking bay in the employer’s staff carpark.

Outcome: The complaint resolved when the employer agreed to make the ACROD bay available to the complainant.

Impairment discrimination in the area of goods, services and facilities

A woman with mobility issues visited a large shopping centre which had advertised it had wheelchairs and mobility scooters available for hire. When the woman attempted to hire a scooter, she was told she needed a current motor vehicle licence.

The woman lodged a complaint of indirect impairment discrimination because she said many people with mobility issues would not have a motor vehicle licence.

In their response to the allegation, the shopping centre said the staff member was wrong in asking for a driver’s licence as there was no such requirement.

Outcome: The shopping centre apologised, sent the woman flowers and reimbursed her for the cost of having goods couriered to her home.

Impairment discrimination in the area of goods, services and facilities

A woman who was deaf sought IT support from her telecommunications provider by submitting her request on an online email form. She specified she was deaf on this form, and in subsequent follow-up messages. None the less, the telecommunications provider did not respond to her by email, and continued to attempt to contact her by telephone.

Outcome: Respondent acknowledged they had unreasonably failed the complainant and apologised. The complaint resolved when the woman was allocated a dedicated IT support worker who was made available to assist her, via email, to get connected.

Race discrimination and racial harassment in the area of employment

A woman alleged race discrimination and racial harassment against her supervisor and employer.

She claimed throughout her employment her supervisor would  refer to her ethnicity, and use racially aggressive language to her and other workers, such as, “Fxxxxxx Asians”, and “You Filipinos eat cats, dogs and sxxx”, and the supervisor would also say from time to time people from her country were prostitutes.

Outcome: Financial compensation of $38,000.

Race and religious conviction discrimination in the area of employment

An employee lodged a complaint alleging work colleagues made comments to him about being Egyptian, being Muslim, and because he was older than the people he worked with.

The man mentioned work colleagues would ‘joke’ to him about a connection between his ethnicity and religion and terrorism. He felt because of his ethnicity and religion they didn't trust him or give him the same level of respect. He claimed his work was also placed under comparatively more scrutiny than work by Anglo-Australian work colleagues.

Outcome: The employer provided a verbal apology at the conciliation conference for the manner in which work colleagues had treated him. The employer said they would monitor the workplace to ensure there was no further adverse treatment of the complainant. In addition, the man was given a permanent role in the organisation.

Sex discrimination in the area of goods, services and facilities

A man alleged sex discrimination when he was denied access to a bar because he was wearing a football jumper without a t-shirt underneath.  He noticed women were being allowed entry wearing exactly the same jumper, and with no t-shirt. When asked why women were allowed entry he was told “because they are women”. 

The bar owners said their staff member had acted unilaterally, and the man should not have been denied entry.

Outcome: The bar owners apologised, and offered the complainant a voucher, and advised they would ensure all staff were briefed on their non-discriminatory policy.

Sex discrimination in the area of goods, services and facilities

A woman lodged a complaint on the grounds of sex in the area of the provision of goods and services when she was denied a fuel card.  The woman’s husband had applied in both their names for a fuel card, and his application was immediately accepted, but hers was rejected two weeks later.

The company said the decision to reject the woman’s application was based on different commercial credit activity, however the woman was able to demonstrate a similar history to her husband.

Outcome: The matter resolved in conciliation with the woman being provided a fuel card. The company also provided an assurance it would not disclose to any third party its original decision on its credit report showing an initial decline of the complainant's application for a fuel card.

Sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in the area of employment

A woman employed in a recreational club was subject to sexual harassment by two male managers. When she complained to senior management, her shifts were reduced and then ceased. She alleged sexual harassment and then victimisation for being subjected to a detriment for raising the issue of sexual harassment.

Outcome: The worker was paid compensation of $10,000 and provided letters of apology from the two managers and the employer. The employer also agreed to initiate staff training on discrimination, bullying and harassment in the workplace and also provided a written statement of reference to the complainant.

Sexual harassment in the area of employment

A woman working in a professional capacity in a company alleged she was sexually harassed by her line manager, who was also a founding director of the company. She alleged he initially groomed her, and then on interstate and overseas work trips coerced her into an unwelcome sexual relationship. She had then rejected his sexual advances, but he kept pressuring her, and placing her in compromising situations such as booking only a single room when they were working away from Perth. As a result of the man’s persistent, unwelcome sexual conduct, the woman resigned her position after three years with the company.

Outcome: Financial compensation of $40,000.

Sexual orientation discrimination and victimisation in the area of goods, services and facilities

Following the marriage equality referendum, a woman decided to include decorative displays at her post wedding reception. She alleged sexual orientation discrimination when a company she contacted about the decorative display declined to provide a service because the business owner objected to same sex marriages on religious grounds.

Outcome: The respondent apologised for the hurt she caused and agreed to review the words she used when speaking to same sex marriage participants and agreed to get legal advice on how people can be treated fairly and in a non-discriminatory way.