You should be aware that such behaviour does not have to be directed specifically at you. Sexual harassment includes behaviour that makes the environment you are working or studying in uncomfortable or threatening in a sexually hostile way.
Hypothetical Example Marissa has a casual job as a Kitchen Hand in a hotel. The Head Chef has posters of topless women pinned all over the kitchen sink area. As everyone has the right to feel comfortable at work, the posters are inappropriate for the workplace. The employer should have had them removed, as pinned up, they contribute to a sexually hostile work environment.
Pregnancy and Potential Pregnancy Discrimination against women because they are, or are thought to be pregnant, or they look pregnant, is unlawful. To discriminate against someone because they have the potential to become pregnant is also against the law under the Sex Discrimination Act. What does this mean? It means it is unlawful for someone to treat you less favourably than another person because you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
Hypothetical Example During a job interview, Sarah was asked whether she intended to have children. Somewhat taken aback by the question, she said that she would eventually like to have a family. Although Sarah was the most qualified and experienced candidate, she did not get the job. She later heard that the interviewer did not like to employ young women who may become pregnant.
This is discrimination on the ground of potential pregnancy. Hypothetical Example Ann was employed in a small recreational club to carry out bar work and table service. She had been employed with the club for over 18 months when she informed her supervisor that she was pregnant.
Her supervisor asked her when she intended to stop working and commented "it doesn't look very nice with you doing table service while you are pregnant". Her shifts were reduced from 36 hours per week to 9 hours without consultation. This is pregnancy discrimination. When could it happen to you? Pregnancy or potential pregnancy discrimination can occur if someone: Marital status and family responsibilities It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their marital status.
Whether you are single, married, divorced or in a de facto relationship, marital status is irrelevant to how well you can do the job. Hypothetical Example Sandra applied for a part-time position at a local bakery. During the interview she commented that the hours suited her perfectly as they were the same as the childcare arrangements for her son. The manager asked if she was married. On hearing that she wasn't, he ended the interview and told other staff that he couldn't possibly employ a young single mother as it would set a bad example.
This is an example of discrimination on the basis of marital status. Dismissal on the basis of family responsibilities is also unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act.
Hypothetical Example Indra lives at home with her mother who has a medical condition requiring a program of regular hospital treatment. When Indra asked her employer for half a day's leave to drive her mother to the hospital, it was refused.
She was told to "make other arrangements, we need you here in the office". Indra decided to take the leave anyway as there was no one else to take care of her mother on this day.
On her return to work she was told "pack up your desk, you no longer have a job here". This is an example of dismissal on the basis of family responsibilities. Apprentices and trainees Apprentices and trainees face lots of new situations, some of which are difficult in a competitive workforce. Female apprentices and trainees can often find themselves in male dominated industries where supervisors are unfamiliar with the management of discrimination.
Often apprentices and trainees are reluctant to speak out about inappropriate behaviour, fearing they will jeopardise their jobs. This has resulted in some pregnant employees finding themselves at risk from exposure to chemicals and unsafe work practices.
During a recent Commission inquiry an apprentice told the Sex Discrimination Commissioner that: If you can't be sure your co-workers will stand by you then it's risky to speak out. She re-located from the country but was told by employers that they wouldn't take her on as a second year apprentice because she was female and might become pregnant.
This is an example of discrimination on the ground of potential pregnancy. Sometimes industries that are male dominated can be particularly challenging for young women. Non-traditional fields of work are sometimes denied to young women, despite their talent and qualifications. QLD survey, reported by the Commission. If you are seeking an apprenticeship or traineeship, your sex is irrelevant.
If you are working as an apprentice or trainee, and become pregnant, you have a right to remain at work and continue your studies. You are also entitled to return to work and your studies after you have given birth.
Equal pay Women were granted equal pay for equal work in Over 30 years later women, on average, still earn less than men. Pay inequity can be a complex issue, and is one of the more subtle forms of sex discrimination.
Pay inequities are often "hidden" in special conditions, and bonus and overtime payments. What can you do about sex discrimination at work? Sex discrimination is against the law and you have a right to take action if it happens to you. You may be able to resolve the situation yourself by pointing out that the discrimination is illegal.
Otherwise, ask for assistance from someone you trust or from someone in a responsible position such as your manager, union delegate, or professional association. At any time you can lodge a written complaint with the Commission. You need to write about what happened, providing details about when, where, who was involved and anything else you think may be relevant. You can talk confidentially to the enquiry staff at the Commission about your complaint.
They can also alert you to what other avenues are open to you. It is free to lodge a complaint with the Commission. You would however incur some costs if you decided to seek your own legal advice. For further information about lodging complaints call and ask for a copy of The Complaint Guide and the Commission's other sex discrimination brochures.
All states and territories also have their own independent laws prohibiting sex discrimination. Most complaints to the Commission are confidentially conciliated.
This means the parties to the complaint, with the help of a Commission conciliator, discuss the issues and come to an agreement that is acceptable. It could involve an apology, a written reference, reinstatement or a compensation payment. The term "educational institution" covers all schools, colleges, universities or any other organisation which provides education and training. It is unlawful for an educational institution to: Sexual harassment By a member of staff Regardless of age or where you are studying public or private institution , you can lodge a complaint if you are sexually harassed by a teacher or other member of staff.
Legal protection against discrimination is extended to the process of applying or enrolling. By another student Regardless of age, you have the right to lodge a complaint if you are sexually harassed by another student. Certain types of bullying, about sex or sex-based characteristics, may also be sexual harassment. If both students are over 16 If you are a student aged 16 or over and you are subjected to sexual harassment by another student who is at least 16, whether male or female you can make a complaint against the individual concerned, or in some circumstances, the educational institution.
Once you turn 16 you are classed as an 'adult student' and need to be aware that legal action can be taken against you if you sexually harass another student or a teacher. If the complaint is substantiated you could be held personally liable.
If the harasser is under 16 A complaint of sexual harassment cannot be made directly against the individual harasser if the person is under 16 years of age. However, a complaint of sex discrimination could be made against the educational institution in these circumstances. As sexual harassment is a legally recognised form of sex discrimination, the educational institution itself has a duty to ensure that sexual harassment of students does not occur in the provision of its educational services.
Pregnancy and potential pregnancy discrimination It is unlawful for schools, colleges and universities to discriminate against a person on the grounds of pregnancy or potential pregnancy. The denial of continued, equally favourable education to a pregnant student is likely to constitute discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy. Hypothetical Example Katina is visibly pregnant on the day of enrolment at college.
The administrator having confirmed that she is pregnant, refuses to enrol Katina and says "you won't finish the semester, try again next year. Hypothetical Example Lou is a Year 12 student who is pregnant. After confiding in one of her teachers, she is summoned to the Principal's office where it is strongly suggested she leave school.
The Principal noted if she didn't leave certain restrictions would have to be put in place, for example she could no longer wear the school uniform, and she would not be permitted to attend school functions such as Speech Day. This is also discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy. It is your legal right to continue your education if you are pregnant.
Your school, college or university has a duty of care and a responsibility to accommodate your pregnancy, for example, release from sport or in the later stages of pregnancy you may need some flexibility with the curriculum or exam program. Ongoing support should be available to students whose schooling is interrupted by pregnancy.
What can you do about sex discrimination in education? Often cases of sex discrimination in education are resolved by the school, college or university. Your educational institution should have an established process for making a complaint and having it resolved. There should be a designated contact officer for you to discuss the issue with confidentially. If you feel unhappy about how things are progressing you can lodge a complaint with the Commission. Hypothetical Example Claire and two male friends plan a night out at a local night club.
The owner explained the night club was trying to attract more males and had decided to charge them half the entrance fee.