Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment

Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment

When we represent employees in court proceedings or even negotiations with their employer, we often find that bullying, sexual harassment or discrimination is involved in some way or another.

The Federal Government’s Fair Work Act protects against discrimination for employees covered by the federal system. One way that the Fair Work Act does this is through its “general protections provisions”.

Section 351 of the Fair Work Act states that an employer must not take “adverse action” against an employee, or prospective employee, because of race or colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion , national extraction, or social origin.

Adverse action” by an employer can include any of the following: terminating the employee, withholding an employee’s legal entitlements (such as annual leave pay), injuring the employee, demoting an employee, refusing to hire a prospective employee, and treating an employee differently to other employees.

Outside of the Fair Work Act, there are laws such as the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth), the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), and the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).

How We Can Help


The Fair Work Act 2009 defines bullying at work as an individual or group repeatedly behaving unreasonably towards a worker or group of workers at work. This behaviour must also create a risk to health and safety.

Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Sexual harassment is essentially, unwelcome conduct, remarks or innuendo of a sexual nature. It may involve a person harassing a member of the opposite sex or of the same sex. There are consequences for breaching this law, including paying compensation to the victim.

Disability Discrimination

The term ‘disability’ is quite broad and includes any condition caused by an accident, trauma, disease or genetic disposition that restricts the mental, sensory or mobility functioning of a person. Disability can be a permanent or temporary medical condition, partial or total, chronic or acquired, visible or invisible.

Pregnancy & Family Or Carer’s Responsibilities

The law protects female employees from being discriminated against if she is pregnant, believes she's pregnant (but isn't), has recently given birth, elects to take maternity leave, or requests flexible working arrangements. Parents are also protected from discrimination arising from the responsibility for their children.

Age Discrimination

Discrimination based on age, whether young or old is unlawful. Age discrimination can often be subtle. Many people over 50 have been treated less favourably because of their age, which is illegal. MKI Legal has experience assisting employees lodge age discrimination claims and obtain financial compensation.

Gender Discrimination

Discriminating based on any gender, including transgender identity, is illegal. The law protects victims of sex discrimination and gives them a right to lodge a claim if they experience either direct or indirect discrimination at work.

Racial Discrimination

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, an employer is prohibited from taking an adverse action against an employee or prospective employee because of the person’s race, colour, or national extraction.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

It's unlawful to discriminate against, treat unfavourably or treat differently any employee or prospective employee based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status.

Religious Discrimination

Discrimination based on an employee or prospective employee’s religion, religious affiliation, religious beliefs, religious convictions or religious activities including religious dress is unlawful.

Other Types Of Discrimination

Other protected forms of discrimination include discriminating against someone because of their political opinion, union membership or non-membership and their social origin. Social origin is a broad term that makes it illegal to discriminate against for example people part of a sub-cultural group such as a anti-vaxxer, vegan, vegetarian, “bogan”, hipster etc.