Impairment discrimination

Your Rights

It is unlawful under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to discriminate against a person with an impairment.

Under the Act a person with an impairment includes anyone with a physical, intellectual or emotional impairment, a person who has had an impairment in the past, or someone assumed to have an impairment.

Direct impairment discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly because of their impairment, compared to another person without an impairment in the same or similar circumstances.

Indirect impairment discrimination is when a requirement, condition or practice that is the same for everyone has an unfair effect on a someone because of an impairment, and is unreasonable in the circumstances.

Examples of impairment discrimination

  • A blind woman was refused service when she entered a cafe accompanied by her guide dog, and was told she would only be served if she sat outside.
  • A lawyer’s application for income protection insurance was refused when she disclosed she had once experienced depression.  This refusal was despite the fact she had not taken any time off work because of her impairment in 10 years.
  • A real estate agent refused the rental application of an accountant who used a wheelchair, because the agent believed she would not be able to pay the rent and maintain the property because of her impairment.
  • The parents of a young boy complained their son had been discriminated against because shortly after being told he was autistic, his child care provider would no longer let him attend the creche.
  • An employee of a travel agency refused to accept a booking made on behalf of a person with a disability. She did this without asking the nature or extent of the disability.  

Downloads and related information:

Impairment discrimination fact sheet is available at Publications - Fact sheets

Information about making a complaint: Make a complaint

Contact the EOC: Contact us

Human Rights Commission Access resources