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.
In Victoria it is against the law to discriminate against you because of your industrial activity.
What is industrial activity?
Industrial activity is about being part of of an industrial organisation, such as a trade union or chamber of commerce. This can include:
- being a member of an industrial organisation
- participating in the lawful activities of an industrial organisation
- organising or promoting a lawful activity for an industrial organisation
- representing or advancing the views of an industrial organisation.
It also includes when you refuse to join and/or participate in an industrial organisation.
An industrial organisation includes an organisation of employees such as a trade union, an association of employers such as a local chamber of manufacturers, or any other group established for people in a particular industry, trade, profession or business. It also includes a formal or informal group of employees that represents the interests of employees.
Examples of industrial activity discrimination
Zoe is a casual worker in a textile factory. Her employer tells everyone that the mandatory clock-on time for all workers will now be 8.00 am. Zoe is concerned that this will make it more difficult for employees with children to get to work on time. Zoe organises an informal meeting of employees to negotiate the policy with management. After the meeting, Zoe’s manager cuts her work hours by 50 per cent, saying, ‘You’re a trouble maker, organising meetings to fight the company. You need to learn to fit in’.
Ally is asked about her industrial activities at a job interview and is then refused the job because of her answer, despite being the best candidate.
Where can discrimination occur?
Discrimination is against the law when it occurs in an area of public life such as clubs, schools and shops, or in the workplace.
Are there any exceptions?
The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some exceptions, which mean that discrimination will not be against the law in particular circumstances.
Positive steps can also be taken to help disadvantaged groups using special measures, which is not discrimination under the law.
If an exception or special measure does not apply, in some circumstances an exemption from the Act may be sought from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Make a complaint to the Commission
If you think you have been discriminated against, sexually harassed, or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.
To make a complaint:
- contact us by phone, in person or email. We also have a free interpreter service
- submit your complaint online or download our complaint form (DOC, 230KB)
- chat to us online
Find out more about making a complaint.