Complaint case studies
Sexual harassment at work function
The complainant alleged that she was sexually harassed in the workplace and subjected to discrimination and other prohibited conduct (e.g asked if she wants to have sex). She also alleges that her husband was victimised for supporting her by making a complaint about the alleged sexual harassment. Both her and her husband resigned due to the stress.
It was agreed that the complainant be paid $20,000, and that the organisation provide anti-discrimination training to its staff from Equal Opportunity Tasmania. Both parties agreed not to disparage one another and to keep the agreement confidential.
Apology follows complaint of gender discrimination
The complainant alleged that their CV was not accepted by the organisation because of their gender. It was agreed at conciliation that the organisation would engage Equal Opportunity Tasmania to train its staff. Both respondents apologised verbally to the complainant during the conciliation.
Conciliation leads to better access
The complainant alleged that a proposed new development would not have an accessible car parking space. Following a conciliation conference, the service provider agreed to install a disability car parking space. There was also a mutual non-disparagement clause between the complainant and individual respondents.
Discrimination on the basis of mental illness resolves at conciliation
The complainant alleged discrimination on the basis of disability and irrelevant medical record, conduct that is humiliating, intimidating, insulting, ridiculing or offensive on the basis of disability and victimisation.
The complainant alleged that the employer doubted their capacity to work in their profession because of a mental health issue and because they took some personal leave. The complainant resigned. The complaint resolved at conciliation with the payment of $20,000 and a statement of service.
Conciliation restores working relationship
The complainant was in their 60s. The complainant alleged that managers were discussing who would replace them when they retired. The complaint was accepted for investigation because it disclosed possible age discrimination and offensive, humiliating, insulting or ridiculing conduct on the basis of age.
The complainant also complained about other staff, but those matters did not indicate a possible breach of the Act.
At the time of making the complaint, the complainant was on extended sick leave.
The complaint was resolved following a conciliation conference. The employer agreed to take reasonable steps to facilitate the complainant’s return to work in accordance with its policies and procedures. The employer also agreed to arrange external mediation between and the complainant and other staff.
Disability discrimination in employment
The complaint took leave from work to undergo scheduled surgery. The complainant alleged that despite being given clearance to return to work, aside from one restriction for a period of time their employer prevented them from returning to work and did not provide reasonable accommodation to enable a return to work.
The complaint was resolved at early conciliation with the respondent acknowledging the complainant’s frustration during the return to work process and agreeing to review its return to work process. The respondent also agreed to ensure a fair and equitable rostering practice.
Sexual harassment in employment
The complainant alleged sexual harassment against their employer. The allegations included comments both written and verbal, and conduct of a sexual nature that was unwelcomed by the complainant. The complainant asserted they did not complain to their employer about the conduct due to the high standing of the respondent in the industry they both worked in, and the possible consequences to the complainant’s employment if they did make a formal complaint.
The complaint was resolved at conciliation with the individual respondent agreeing to provide a personal written apology to the complainant, and to complete discrimination and prohibited conduct training. The organisational respondent agreed to review its policies and procedures manual and to pay compensation to the complainant. The parties also agreed not to make false or misleading statements about each other.
Complaint highlights rights of parents and step-parents
The complainant was in a same-sex relationship. The complainant had a child with her former partner and complained that her current partner had been treated less favourably by being excluded from an appointment for the complainant’s child. The child’s mother had withdrawn permission for the partner to attend. The complainant alleged discrimination on the basis of relationship status and parental status in the provision of a service.
The complaint was rejected because the reason why the partner could not attend the appointment was because the legal parent of the child had withdrawn permission. The complainant’s current partner was not a legal parent of the child.
Complaint results in local Council developing disability access plan
The complainant had lodged a complaint of disability discrimination against a local Council. The complainant used a wheelchair and had alleged the local Council did not provide accessible parking spaces at a Council site.
The complaint resolved at a conciliation conference conducted by Equal Opportunity Tasmania. At the conference the complainant and the respondent discussed the parking issue and also discussed wider issues of concern for people with disability in the local area.
As well as agreeing to resolve the parking issue, the Council also wanted to develop a disability access plan, in consultation with the complainant and local community groups. The disability access plan will identify areas for improvement, and set out actions to make those improvements, to make the local community more accessible and inclusive for people with disability.
Employer refused to allow worker who had been off work due to illness to return to work part time
Equal Opportunity Tasmania received a complaint from a worker who had been off work due to illness. The worker’s doctor had said the worker would need to do a gradual return to work, initially working part-time and building up to full-time hours. The employer refused this and alleged the work required one person working full-time in the role.
The complaint resolved at a conciliation conference conducted by Equal Opportunity Tasmania. The complaint resolved by (among other things) the employer agreeing to pay the worker $20,000 compensation.
Complaint withdrawn after receiving response to complaint
The complainant alleged age discrimination in the provision of facilities, goods and services. The complainant, an older athlete, entered a sporting event to be held in Tasmania. The rules of the sporting event said that sports could combine age groups if there were not enough competitors in one age group. The complainant was concerned that older athletes would need to compete against younger athletes and would not be able to win medals.
After being notified of the complaint, the organiser of the sporting event explained that sports were allowed to combine age groups if there were not a minimum number of participants. This was to ensure meaningful competition and that events were run in a timely manner. However, medals would still be awarded for each age group.
The complainant was satisfied with this explanation and withdrew the complaint.
Complaint about offensive sign during the period of the same-sex marriage law survey
During the same-sex marriage law survey, a person had put a sign up at his property describing anal sex in a crude way and linking this to same-sex marriage. There had been media reporting of the sign. A person who had driven past the sign had made a complaint.
Equal Opportunity Tasmania conducted a conciliation conference between the person who had made the complaint, and the person who was displaying the sign. Following a discussion of the issues, the parties agreed to issue a joint statement and agreed to resolve the complaint. The joint statement said (amongst other things) that:
- Both of the parties agree that in public debates everyone has the right to express an opinion.
- Both of the parties agree that this needs to be done in a respectful way and that does not breach the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas).
- The respondent stated that given their time again, they would not have used the words they did.
Disability discrimination in the provision of services complaint
The complainant who uses crutches to walk booked a cruise through her travel agent in response to reading a flyer from the cruise company.
The complainant alleged disability discrimination after they were charged more for the accessible cabins located on the outside of the cruise ship.
At conciliation the parties agreed to resolve the complaint by reimbursement of the extra cost and for the cruise company to include information in its flyer about the limitations of it vessel for people with limited mobility.
Complaint rejected and decision reviewed by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal
The complainant alleged discrimination on the basis of age and industrial activity in the area of employment. The complainant’s employment was terminated and they alleged they were bullied and mistreated by staff.
When the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner sought more information about the complaint, the complainant said they didn’t believe they had been discriminated against on the basis of age.
The complainant thought the discrimination related to industrial activity because they had made an application to the Fair Work Commission against their previous employer.
The Commissioner rejected the complaint because there was insufficient information to show that the complainant was discriminated against on the basis of age and industrial activity. There was no information to show that the employer was aware that the complainant had made an application to the Fair Work Commission against their previous employer.
The complainant applied to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal to review the Commissioner’s decision to reject the complaint.
The Tribunal reviewed the decision and decided the Commissioner made a correct decision to reject the complaint. The Tribunal looked at the information the complainant had provided to the Commissioner and more information provided by the complainant to the Tribunal. The further information included that a supervisor said to the complainant ‘I am older than you’.
The Tribunal noted that it is not enough that someone has a belief they have been discriminated against because of their age or industrial activity, there must be facts that support it. In this case, there was no evidence to support it. There was only one instance of a supervisor saying he was older than the complainant. The Tribunal also held there was no evidence to support that the complainant’s employer knew about the employee’s previous application to the Fair Work Commission or discriminated against them because of it.
Conciliation provides avenue for parties to repair ongoing professional relationship
The complainant is profoundly deaf. In the complaint, it was alleged that the respondent, although being aware of the complainant’s need for an interpreter, refused to provide one to assist them to complete a course.
The Commissioner accepted the complaint on the basis the allegations disclosed possible indirect discrimination.
Indirect discrimination occurs when:
- There is a condition, requirement or practice.
- The condition, requirement or practice is unreasonable in all the circumstances.
- The condition requirement or practice has the effect of disadvantaging the complainant.
- The complainant is disadvantaged as a member of a group of people who are, or are believed to share, a prescribed attribute, more than a person who is not a member of that group.
An early conciliation conference was held and the parties came to an agreement to resolve the complaint. The parties were then able to move forward with an ongoing professional relationship.
Sexual harassment complaint goes to Anti-Discrimination Tribunal
The complainant alleged that the respondent made comments about her being a ‘pretty girl’, ‘having what it takes’, that ‘sex sells’, looked her up and down and encouraged her to dress in a certain way.
The respondent also allegedly told the complainant to get used to inappropriate sexual comments from customers because it happens often.
The complaint was accepted for investigation on the basis that the complainant may have been:
- discriminated against on the basis of gender;
- offended, humiliated, intimidated, insulted or ridiculed on the basis of gender; and
- sexually harassed.
The complaint was unable to be resolved by conciliation and the complaint was referred to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for inquiry.
Complaint resolved at conciliation
The complainant is a member of a religious organisation. The respondent posted a link on their Facebook page to a video which said that the complainant and their religious organisation engaged in paedophilia.
The complaint was accepted for investigation because it raised possible:
- Discrimination on the basis of religious belief or affiliation: this takes place when a person is treated less favourably because of their religious belief or affiliation, than a person who does not have this religious belief or affiliation.
- Inciting hatred on the basis of religious belief or affiliation: this takes place when a person does a public act from which an ordinary member of the audience could understand that they were being incited to hatred, in this case on the basis of the complainant’s religious belief or affiliation.
- Promoting discrimination and prohibited conduct: this takes place when a person publishes or displays a sign, notice or advertising matter that promotes, expresses or depicts discrimination or other conduct made unlawful by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas). The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner decided it was possible that a post on Facebook could be an electronic sign or notice.
The complaint was resolved at conciliation with the respondent agreeing to remove the posts and post an apology on Facebook. The apology said that the respondent had not watched the whole video and there was no proof of the allegations made in the video in relation to the complainant and their religious organisation.
Complainant and respondent work together to sort complaint out
The complainant alleged discrimination on the basis of disability, in connection with accommodation.
The complainant had a lease agreement with the respondent.
The complaint was accepted for investigation on the ground that the respondent sent a letter to the complainant which said that the complainant’s lease was unable to be renewed because of their health condition.
The complaint was resolved at an early conciliation conference where the parties had an in-depth discussion about the issues in the complaint and how to move forward.
The parties came to an agreement to resolve the complaint, which included the continuation of the complainant’s lease.
Complaint rejected as complainant could not show the reason he did not get a job was his race
A complaint was received from a person who was born overseas. The complainant had applied for a job, but was not successful. The complainant alleged that this was race discrimination.
The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner rejected the complaint. In rejecting the complaint, the Commissioner said that there needs to be some evidence to show that the person’s race was the reason for the alleged discrimination (in this case not getting the job). The Commissioner noted that there was no evidence (other than the complainant’s belief) to show the complainant’s race was the reason they did not get the job, and rejected the complaint on this basis.