Preventing discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. This includes bullying someone because of a protected characteristic. 

Employers can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination and sexual harassment that occur at work or are connected to the workplace. 

Having a strong and unambiguous equal opportunity policy is a powerful tool for preventing discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Why is an equal opportunity policy important?

An effective equal opportunity policy will set out in clear and simple terms what is – and isn’t – acceptable workplace behaviour.

This helps minimise confusion or uncertainty among staff and managers, and provides a solid foundation for building a safe, productive and respectful working environment.

An equal opportunity policy that helps staff understand their rights and responsibilities can significantly reduce the risk of an employer’s liability for acts of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Promoting equal opportunity in the workplace

In addition to developing the right policy for their workplace, employers also need to take make sure that everyone understands the policy and that it operates effectively in practice.

Employers should also establish a process for resolving complaints of discrimination that do arise.

The Commission encourages employers to look beyond the minimum legal requirements of equal opportunity law and to strive for best practice.

Need help?

The Commission provides tailored training programs to help employers develop and implement effective equal opportunity policies for their workplaces.

Employers can also contact us by phone, in person or email for information about employers' responsibilities.