22 Feb Termination of Employment Due to Racial Discrimination
There are strict laws in Australia that prevent the termination of an employee on the basis of race. Under section 351 of the Fair Work Act an employer cannot take “adverse action” against an employee or a prospective employee based on their race. An adverse action can include the following:
- Dismissing an employee.
- Injuring an employee in the course of their employment.
- Changing an employee’s position to their disadvantage.
- Discriminating between one employee and other employees.
- Refusing to employ a prospective employee.
If you believe your employment has been terminated on the basis of your race then you may be entitled to compensation by making a general protections claim under the Fair Work Act. Moreover, if you are an employer facing racial discrimination allegations then you may be liable under the Fair Work Act and you should seek legal advice in relation to your position.
A finding of racial discrimination by a Court can be particularly damaging to a business’s reputation. Court transcripts may be accessed by the public, opening up the potential for embarrassment and reputational damage to firms found guilty of racial discrimination in their workplace. In addition, compensation and pecuniary penalties may be applied at the Court’s discretion, proving a costly exercise if the law is contravened.
A major part of demonstrating racial discrimination is showing there has been unfair treatment of an employee which is sufficiently connected to their national or ethnic background. An important point to remember in a general protections matter is the reason for the action is presumed until proven otherwise, section 361 of the Fair Work Act. This can sometimes prove particularly challenging for employers to defend as they often have only verbal statements as evidence to disprove the allegations. As an employer, careful consideration must go into training management surrounding these types of issues. In addition, any disputes raised in relation to racial discrimination in the workplace should be documented internally in the event an employee does make a claim under the general protections umbrella.
The law is Australia is structured so as to provide for adequate protection against racial discrimination in the workplace. Employers must comply with a strict legal framework and often they fall short of observing the rules. As an employee you are entitled to compensation under the Fair Work Act for any breaches in this area of the law.
Should you require assistance with your litigation matter, please give us a call for a free assessment. Our contact details are:
Berrigan Doube Lawyers
Melbourne: (03) 9600 2577
Sydney: (02) 9251 6699
Brisbane: (07) 3229 0707