Created in partnership with slater and gordon

What To Do If You Think You’re Being Discriminated Against At Work

From gender, sexuality, disability, appearance and race, employees may be discriminated against just for existing. In Australia, this is illegal. 
Discrimination at work can look like outright bullying, being passed up for opportunities or promotions, or being unfairly fired for your identity. 
If you recognise yourself in this cohort, firstly, I’m sorry. Secondly, here’s what you can do about it. 

Talk about it

The first thing to consider is whether or not there’s a trusted figure in your organisation who you could go to. Whether it’s your manager or someone in your team, by sharing your story, you can begin the journey of receiving justice.
If you’d prefer to go straight to a third party before mentioning it to your workplace, El Leverington, a Senior Associate from law firm Slater and Gordon, believes you should “seek advice” from your union or an employment lawyer as soon as possible. 
Let’s be frank. Laws are full of legal jargon which the everyday person may find overwhelming to wade through. By having someone in your corner who deals with workplace discrimination cases for a living, you'll be equipped to seek compensation from your employer, should it come to that.
For example, according to Leverington, one employee was successful in arguing that her employer had discriminated against her (through taunting, threatening, and assaulting her) because she was pregnant. She was awarded financial compensation. 
“There are both Federal and State/Territory laws which will apply depending on who your employer is,” says Leverington. 
“That state or territory will have an Equal Opportunity, Human Rights, or Anti-Discrimination body who receives complaints. Most employees can also commence proceedings under the Fair Work Act 2009 to seek relief from discrimination."

Take it to court

If the case remains unresolved after this, you can apply (with help from a lawyer, if you wish) to take the matter to court. 
Even complaining about workplace discrimination, let alone taking it to the government bodies can be seriously intimidating and may have a big impact on your mental health. 
Many resources exist that may help to lessen the mental health impacts of taking your employer to court.
There are a lot of factors to consider including loss of income and the impact it may have on your career. But, by calling out toxic workplaces, you’re not only receiving the compensation you deserve, you’re helping to make work a safer place for future employees.
“If we don't call out bad behaviour by employers, those behaviours are likely to continue and negatively impact more employees,” says Leverington. 
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