What to do if you’re discriminated against

Person in a wheelchair shaking hands with someoneIn Australia, there are laws to ensure that people with disability are treated fairly.

Unfortunately, disability discrimination sometimes still happens. It may be that a person with disability is treated less favourably than people without disability. It may also be that people are treated less fairly because they are relatives, friends, carers, co-workers or associates of a person with disability.

What to do if you think you have been discriminated against

If you think you have been harassed or discriminated against because of your disability (or the disability of someone you know), the first step is to try to resolve the issue with the other person/s.

If the discrimination or harassment is happening in the workplace, discuss the issue with your employer. Many employers have a complaints procedure or a disability contact officer (usually within the human resources department) who can discuss workplace problems and concerns with you.

If you are unable to resolve the issue, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. You can also complain to State and Territory organisations responsible for anti-discrimination.

Making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission

Your complaint needs to be put in writing and should include:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • where it happened
  • who was involved
  • the names of anyone else who can say what happened.

If you cannot write down your complaint, get someone else to write it down for you, or ask the Australian Human Rights Commission to help you write it down. For more information, visit the Commission’s website or phone 1300 656 419.

You can email your complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or electronically lodge a complaint through the Commission’s website.

The Australian Human Rights Commission then decides if they are legally able to investigate your complaint. If they cannot deal with your complaint, they will write to you and explain why. If they decide to investigate, this may include contacting the other person/s involved, to get their side of the story. The Australian Human Rights Commission will then work with you and the other person/s to find a solution that everyone can agree with. This is called conciliation. If conciliation does not work, you can decide whether or not to take your complaint to court.

Contacting the Fair Work Ombudsman to settle disputes

The Fair Work Ombudsman website can give you information on settling workplace disputes. It can tell you how to lodge claims if you think you have unlawfully lost your job due to your disability. It can also help if you have been discriminated against in some other way.

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