Racial discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 states as follows
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
Employees are protected from discrimination at all stages of employment including recruitment, workplace terms and conditions and dismissal.
Examples of racial discrimination
* Making offensive comments regarding one's culture and or ethnicity such as " go back to your own country, you do not belong here", " your race is taking all our jobs " ;
* Calling nick names regarding one's culture and ethnicity and comments about one's skin colour ;
* Denying a promotion to an employee and saying words to the effect " your kind will never move up here in this organsiation";
* Insisting that all employees speak English at all times, even during their breaks;
* Unfair treatment in the course of work on the basis of race such as subjecting employees to negative comments about their race.
All types of employers and employment relationships are covered under the RDA, including Commonwealth Government employees, state government employees and private sector employees, full-time, part-time and casual employees, contract workers and commission agents, as well as apprentices, trainees and those on probation.
Direct discrimination happens when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of his or her race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.
Indirect discrimination can be less obvious. It can happen when employers or service providers put in place conditions, requirements or practices which appear to treat everyone the same but which actually disadvantage some people because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status.
One important question is who is ultimately liable for the acts of racial discrimination that an individual has expereinced. The perpretrator is personally liable and we can maintain an action against him personally. Under the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 (Cth) employers may be vicariously liable if an employee commits racial discrimination and the employer did not take all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from doing these acts.
Connect Legal and its team of solicitors are very expereinced and knowledgeable in prosecuting racial discrimination claims both at the Australian Human Rights Commission, the relevant State Tribunals, the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court.
The process of prosecuting a claim, needs extensive interviews, listening to all the detailed allegations and preparing comprehensive factual and legal submission.
Indeed, where many aggreieved individuals become unstuck is when their matter cannot resolve at the Australian Human Rights Commission and accessing the Federal Circuit Court is required.
Connect legal is one of the very few employment and discrimination who have acted for multiple clients at the Federal Circuit Court and obtained fair and reasonable settlements.
We understand the court process, the pleadings,the statement of claims required and how both the facts and law must flow together in successfuly prosecuting a sexual harassment claim.
Connect Legal has been defending employee rights in relation to discrimination and racial discrimination for over two decades and please feel free to contact our office(02-98892239) for a discussion.
We can also travel closer to your home and or workpalce if required.
Our work is also undetaken on a no win no fee basis and a written costs agreement will br provided prior to any work being undertaken.
I have lodged an unfair dismissal claim in relation to my termination, but I have suffered racial discrimination because of my race and culture and this was not related to my termination. They say I was terminated for not doing my job well, but I don’t believe this. Can I also lodge a racial discrimination claim alongside my unfair dismissal claim?
A) Yes, there are two different causes of action. One is a dismissal related claim and one is a claim to say that during your employment period, you have been racially discriminated or vilified or experienced racial hatred. For the latter, you can file a human rights complaint at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). However, you always need to be wary that there is currently a six-month limitation period for filing Human Rights complaints with the AHRC and if you file a claim outside of the six-month period, the commission may terminate your complaint on that basis. In the alternative, you also need to be wary that if you are filing a general protections case, sections 725 – 734 of the Fair Work Act 2009 prevent you from filing multiple actions for the same cause of action, however so long as there is a clear difference between your dismissal and the preceding conduct, which may be for example race discrimination, disability discrimination or sexual harassment then addition to your dismissal claim at Fair Work, you can also file a complaint with the AHRC. Finally, at the AHRC’s discretion, if you have filed two separate claims, the AHRC may terminate your human rights complaint on the basis that it was already the subject of conciliation at the Fair Work Commission and whilst you can continue with this claim in the Federal Court jurisdiction, you will require the leave of the court.
I am a female of Iraqi heritage an Islamic faith and my employer on a regular basis has ridiculed my culture, ethnicity, race and my Islamic faith. I have regularly asked him to cease and he just ignores my comments. He recently terminated my employment after I again raised these issues how can Connect Legal Help?
Your former employer has breached the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 by make these insensitive comments about your culture and race. In relation to comments about your Islamic faith this is religious discrimination and the Australian Human Rights Commission will also investigate these very serious allegations. Connect Legal is very experienced both at the Human Rights Commission level and more importantly at the Federal Circuit Court stage where all your work will be undertaken on a no win no fee basis. Please call our office for further help.
I am male, of Polynesian / Maori culture, of Christian Faith, have worked for my employer for over 20 years and many of the staff have constantly victimised me calling me vulgar names regarding the colour of my skin, my general appearance and mocking daily my Christian Faith. I have asked them to stop, but it continues daily and weekly. How can Connect Legal help ?
Comments about your Polynesian / Maori culture and race are highly discriminatory under the Racial Discrimination Act. No one can be ridiculed about their heritage, colour o skin, and ethnicity and defending your discrimination rights are essential. Please ring Connect Legal and speak to Jake and Richard for further help.
I am a male of Indian heritage and have been working within the software and technology sector for over 8 years with the same employer. My direct manager regularly displays unethical behaviour (regarding managing client relations, project deadlines, and misleading and deceptive behaviour) which I have explained to him should not be occurring. However, over the last 12 months, he has made regular comments about my Indian heritage, culture and ethnicity, saying comments such as “there are too many Indians coming into Australia”, “Indians don’t understand the Australian way” and “Indian’s are not team players”. Can you please advise accordingly?
Connect Legal regularly receives calls from senior software and technology engineers within the ICT fields and many of them are highly qualified with a masters and some even have MBA qualifications. Regarding the unethical behaviour, this should not be occurring and this is a clear breach of the corporations law and the Australian Competition and Consumer laws. Regarding the racial vilification and victimisation, this is abhorrent. No one’s employment should be judged by their culture, ethnicity or race and your current manager’s behaviour needs to stop straight away. Sometimes writing a letter to HR may work, but our experience has been that HR generally takes the side of the employers and says you can’t prove your allegations. This is where the services of Connect Legal are necessary to defend and safeguard your employment and discrimination rights and only by being proactive and lodging an application with the Human Rights Commission may your current manager cease their behaviour.
I am a male of Persian heritage and Islamic faith. I have a Master of Civil Engineering and have been working as an Engineer for a large Civil Construction Firm for 3 years. My Senior male manager sometimes goes off the rails, and over the last 6 months has made very derogatory racist comments as follows; “Persians don’t fit within Australian culture”, “Iranians don’t belong here, they need to go back home”, “Iranians are not team players”. He has also made very hurtful comments about my Islamic faith, such as “we don’t need more Muslims in Australia”, “Muslims are destroying the Australian fabric of life”, “Muslims are getting everything they want in Australia at the cost of us Australians”. I have just resigned from my work, how can Connect Legal help me to defend my employment and discrimination workplace rights?
Racial and religious discrimination is abhorrent and inquiries like yours have been very common over the years. No one should be ridiculed for their faith and religious beliefs. The comments regarding your culture and race are blatant breaches of the Race Discrimination Act and our strong advice would be to lodge a claim with the AHRC. What is essential is teamwork between yourself and your team of solicitors who are very experiences and knowledgeable within this area. Connect Legal is prepared to undertake your work on a no win no fee basis, and will travel out to see you within the next 48 hours.
I am a male of Middle Eastern culture and Islamic faith and work within the manufacturing industry. My shift supervisors regularly make comments about my heritage and religion saying comments such as “You don’t belong here”, “Go back home”, “You guys have caused all the problems everywhere” and “you’re a terrorist” etc. Please advise.
Over the last 2 decades, on a regular and systematic basis, we have received calls from employees who are of Middle Eastern heritage and Islamic faith and when our solicitor’s hear our client’s experiences, it is very disturbing. No employer, manager, or supervisor has the right to denigrate anyone for their culture, race and/or religion. In these very complex situations, the only sensible solution forward is to safeguard your employment rights and assign a solicitor to program your matter through the Australian Human Rights Commission and if unsuccessful, through the Federal Circuit Court. Please contact our team on 02 9889 2239 and we will arrange a face to face interview within 48 hours.
I have lodged an unfair dismissal claim in relation to my termination, but I have suffered racial discrimination because of my race and culture and this was not related to my termination. They say I was terminated for not doing my job well, but I don’t believe this. Can I also lodge a racial discrimination claim alongside my unfair dismissal claim ?
One is a dismissal related claim and one is a claim to say that during your employment period, you have been racially discriminated or vilified or experienced racial hatred. For the latter, you can file a human rights complaint at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). However, you always need to be wary that there is currently a six-month limitation period for filing Human Rights complaints with the AHRC and if you file a claim outside of the six-month period, the commission may terminate your complaint on that basis. The six month limitation period commenced when the contravening conduct occurred. In the alternative, you also need to be wary that if you are filing a general protections case, sections 725 – 734 of the Fair Work Act 2009 prevent you from filing multiple actions for the same cause of action, however so long as there is a clear difference between your dismissal and the preceding conduct, which may be for example race discrimination, disability discrimination or sexual harassment then addition to your dismissal claim at Fair Work, you can also file a complaint with the AHRC. Finally, at the AHRC’s discretion, if you have filed two separate claims, the AHRC may terminate your human rights complaint on the basis that it was already the subject of conciliation at the Fair Work Commission and whilst you can continue with this claim in the Federal Court jurisdiction, you will require the leave of the court.
I am being racially discrimination against at work; however I have not made any written complaints to my manager (the discriminator) human resources or to the CEO. Does this affect the credibility of my racial discrimination allegations, and whether I’ll be believed throughout the Human Rights and or Federal Circuit Court process?
Indeed, it is much more beneficial that an individual who has experienced racial discrimination does raise allegations in writing to the business’ Human Resources department and more importantly senior management. Our experience through the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Federal Circuit Court is that employers regularly say “she never made the complaint, so it never occurred” or “she made the complaints after her termination through her lawyers” or “because she never complained she has no credibility and the alleged acts have not occurred.” The Race Discrimination Act does not specify that for a successful prosecution of a racial discrimination claim that an aggrieved individual has to make a written or verbal complaint to management and/or HR. The numerous calls that we receive, individuals on the majority of occasions have not raised the issues of racial discrimination either verbally and/or in writing, but this has never precluded our firm from procuring very successful non-financial and financial resolutions through the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Federal Circuit Court and/or the Federal Court.
I’m a female of Chinese heritage and work for 5 years as an office manager for a medium importer and exporter of financial goods. The owner of the business over the last 2 years has been doing a lot of grotesque things to me and other females but I haven’t spoken up for fear of losing my job. He regularly touches my legs, slaps my behind and touches me up and says words like “you are sexy”, “your jeans look great on you” and “imagine how you’d be in bed.” Yes, I should have spoken up 2 years ago but because of my Asian culture we don’t like to be confrontational, but it has gotten to the point that I’m at the doctors once per week and I’ve been seeing a psychologist. My employer has now reduced my hours and it is about time I speak up, how can Connect Legal help?
It is unfortunate that conduct like what you have explained is not uncommon in the workplace and we regularly receive inquiries where female employees are harassed in the workplace and unable to speak up for fear that they will face further harassment and discrimination or lose their jobs. However now that the conduct is starting to seriously affect your mental health and wellbeing, the first step may be to seek the advice of your doctor and/or psychologist and take a period of personal leave to focus on your mental health and provide your employer with copies of the medical certificates for the period of your leave. Second, it may be time to take action to cease the conduct. As you have already expressed to the owner of the business that the conduct is unwelcome and it has not ceased, you may need to lodge a claim for sexual harassment at the Australian Human Rights Commission and you can do this whilst still employed. Connect Legal can assist you with lodging a claim and ensuring your employment and discrimination rights are protected.
I’m a female of Asyrian heritage and work as a receptionist within a large medical centre. I have recently observed one of the practicing doctors has been doing a lot of unethical acts in the way that he manages his patients and the consultation process. However, that’s not my main dilemma I’m suffering. He has been making inappropriate comments about my race such as “Sadam Hussein created all the problems” “we Australians are fighting in Iraq” “people from Iraq are terrorists” and “you need to follow the Australian way of life”. Whenever a special religious feast comes around, he says “What’s this about fasting, this is stupid, where is this god of yours that you talk about?” I explain to him that my culture and faith should not be subject to extreme ridicule. He says “if you don’t like it you can leave and even go back home”.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their race, colour, national origin or ethnic origin. All employers and employment relationships are covered under the Act. What you have described is direct discrimination on the basis of your race and national and ethnic origin and it is saddening that conduct like this is still so prevalent in workplaces, especially in Australia where we pride ourselves on being culturally diverse. Employers have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent racial discrimination and ensure employees work in a safe environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. It is also unlawful to victimise a person for complaining about discrimination and your employer’s comments telling you to “if you don’t like it you can leave and even go back home” may be seen as victimisation. Over the years, Connect Legal has assisted people who have experienced extreme racial discrimination Australia-wide by lodging a claim for racial discrimination at the Australian Human Rights Commission. By lodging a complaint, perhaps your employer will implement work health and safety and discrimination and harassment training and other policies and procedures to prevent future employees experiencing discrimination and harassment.
The court can award damages for your economic loss, as long as you can establish a causal link between the unlawful sexual harassment and the economic loss that is alleged to flow from the conduct. For example, if you resign from your employment and are subsequently unemployed because of the sexual harassment or your employer’s inability to investigate the conduct, you can seek to be paid economic loss for the period of unemployment or for example, any demotion in your employment position. Economic loss can be sought for both past economic loss and future economic loss, for example where you are unfit for work to provide a significant period because of the conduct. Finally, economic loss can also include any losses you incurred for medical, pharmaceutical or other related expenses such as the cost of seeing a medical professional. General damages refers any alleged loss or damage for hurt, humiliation and any injury suffered because of the conduct. Usually an Applicant or victim would file a Medico Legal Report by either a psychologist or psychiatrist which would evidence any loss and damage.
Aggravated damages are awarded where the perpetrator’s conduct is especially vicious or heinous and aggravated in some form. For example, the conduct may be repetitive and continue unabated even where the victim has requested that the conduct cease. Exemplary or punitive damages are often confused with aggravated damages. The difference is that exemplary damages are generally ordered to punish the wrong-doer and to deter the conduct for the future. Exemplary damages are not compensatory in nature and are only imposed in very limited circumstances
Connect Legal for over decades has diligently and quietly defended and safeguarded our client's employment and discrimination rights. The word " fight" conjures up images of undue stress and complexities and we wholeheartedly condemn the use of this word in legal literature. Connect Legal's philosophy is about defending and safeguarding client rights, which required discipline, diligence and extensive tea work. Yes results make take more time, but the landmark judgements we have obtained within the owner driver area, sham contracting, disability discrimination were because of our unique philosophy. Please see our judgement page.
Our legal services will be undertaken on a No Win No Fee basis as has been the case from inception when we commenced defending employee rights in the late 90s. We will provide a written costs agreement outlining our No Win No Fee policy and will provide an estimate of the applicable fees.