What’s been happening in Australia in relation to workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying from 13 – 19 July 2015

Uber has overcome potential workplace discrimination issues by providing an app for deaf drivers. Mr Kenyon has a hearing impairment, which in the past has affected the likelihood of him being employed. However, when he applied for a job as a driver with Uber he was told that “being deaf did not matter.”

Uber has an app that allows hearing impaired drivers to pick up passengers and communicate by text. This is a great example of an employer making reasonable accommodations due to an employee’s disability in order for them to be able to do the essential requirements of the job.

Well done Uber and let’s hope this paves the ways for other employers to become more creative in how they can assist people with a disability.

Haile-Michael and Maki Issa, both African, brought a landmark case against the Victorian police alleging racial bias. Haile-Michael alleged that he was assaulted, stopped and searched by the police. His case was settled in 2013. The complainants, in conjunction with a community legal centre, then conducted a study that found police routinely stopped young people from countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan

Similar statistics exist for Aboriginal people. Equal Opportunity Laws apply not only in employment but also in the provision of services, such as the police force. Police have a legal responsibility not to discriminate against someone based on their race. The report conducted suggests they are still discriminating against people, especially young people, based on their race.

The Federal court refused an employer’s attempt to dismiss a sex discrimination claim. Ms Chang, a senior chemical engineer, sought compensation for alleged sex discrimination including the disparity of treatment between herself compared with male employees, in terms of reporting lines, supervisory and other responsibilities. Ms Chang also argued that male employees junior to her in qualifications, experience and position were given responsibilities and opportunities for advancement in preference to her. Her employer argued that the alleged conduct did not occur during her employment (but potentially after her employment finished) and so the Sex Discrimination Act didn’t apply as it mentioned employers and employees and her claim should therefore be dismissed before proceeding to trial. Mortimer J held that the claim should not be dismissed before trial and that this issue should be decided at trial.

Stay tuned to see what the court decides.

How old before you start to be looked over for jobs? According to the Westpac Women of Influence Report it is 47! Baby boomers believe this is because older workers are perceived as having out-dated skills and there is perceived cost saving in hiring younger people. However, studies have shown that workers are their most productive in their 40s and 50s. The federal government has a $10,000 subsidy paid to employers to get mature age workers, aged over 50, back into a job.

It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their age, unless age is an inherent requirement of the job (such as serving alcohol) or due to proven safety issues to do with a person’s age.

Victoria’s first gender and sexuality commissioner has been created to “champion the rights” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Victorians.
One of her focuses will be on helping transgender people keep jobs. Only 5% of transgender people kept their jobs after changing gender.

Under all states equal opportunity laws, people are protected in employment from discrimination in relation to their sexual preference and sexual identity, however, in reality they are still discriminated against. It is hoped that the creation of this position will provide another avenue for people to feel able to make a complaint where they are being discriminated against.