Easier access to staff information can pose potential risks for unfair discrimination.

Avoiding discrimination in the workplace

A number of changes to the workplace are making it easier for employers to access information about staff.

Technological innovations, improved medical records and increasing access to internet-based networking programs is leading to an increase in companies storing the private details of individuals.

And while this virtual data mine is overbrimming with insights into the latest consumer habits, it also comes with certain risks including the potential for unfair discrimination.

Despite differences between state and commonwealth jurisdictions, the same basic legal framework is used to oversee discrimination cases.

Most employers will be aware of the more common forms of discrimination that have been outlawed in Australia, including decisions based on race, sex and disability.

However, they may not know that there are times when these criteria can be lifted in order to fulfil a certain role or task.

There may also be some confusion surrounding the places where discrimination can take place, as some laws extend to public life while others are limited to the worksite.

This means that employees may file claims about discriminatory acts or comments by other colleagues or an employer that happened outside of their normal workplace.

Typical examples often include references to after work drinks, team training days and staff weekend trips.

In some cases, the claim may be taken against an organisation despite relating to the actions of someone who is not necessarily employed by the business but may have been working on a contract basis.

However, there are also a number of exemptions to anti-discrimination laws that may benefit employers.

A company can cite unjustifiable hardship as a legitimate reason for failing to accommodate certain disabilities.

Insurance is another area where companies have grounds for failing to apply anti-discrimination legislation.

Other organisations may find that their ability to fill a certain role or complete different activities is dependent on a temporary exemption from these laws which can be gained via the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Free Download: Termination Letter Template

Need to let an employee go? Use our letter of termination template to ensure you are using the correct format. 

termination letter template