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 for someone to discriminate against you because of your marital status, or what people assume that to be.
Marital status is whether you are, or are not, single, married, divorced, widowed, separated, a domestic partner or in a de facto relationship. ‘Domestic partner’ refers to all couples, regardless of their sex and sexual orientation.
Examples of marital status discrimination
Jenna lets her health insurance fund know that she was recently married. The next time they send her a rebate they address it to Jenna’s husband and make the cheque payable to him, which means she has to get her husband’s signature to cash the cheque.
Domestic partners Peter and Jessica are refused accommodation because the landlord only wants to rent to a married couple. Peter and Jessica may lodge a complaint of discrimination based on marital status. It is possible that the landlord may need to provide an apology and agree to rent the place to them.
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).
Find out more about making a complaint.