Sex discrimination is legally defined as occurring when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their gender. This may be because of their sex; marital status; family responsibilities; sexual identity, because you are pregnant or might become pregnant; or because you are breastfeeding. This is known as direct discrimination. An example of direct discrimination is where male and female employees with the same level of experience and qualifications are paid differently in the workplace.
It is also sex discrimination when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular sex. This is called ‘indirect discrimination’. For example, it may be indirect sex discrimination if a policy says that all staff are to work within standard hours and there is no flexibility in work hours, which may affect working mothers to a larger degree than working fathers.
Complaints about sex discrimination can be made to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. The Anti-Discrimination Board seeks to conciliate the grievance between the parties involved, however, can transfer the complaint to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ("NCAT") if the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of conciliation and seeks a legal decision.
A complaint about discrimination under federal law can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”). Once a complaint is received, the Commission will notify the party against whom the complaint has been lodged and they will have an opportunity to respond. The parties may be invited to attend a conciliation conference to try to resolve the complaint informally. The Commission will not investigate nor make any findings of discrimination.
If you wish to speak to one of our Discrimination Law & Human Rights Law Lawyers, please contact our Sydney CBD Head Office by telephone on (02) 9233 4048 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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