20 min read


Last updated April 2024

This chapter explains the laws governing discrimination in the workplace and what you need to do to comply with them.

What is discrimination?

Definition: Discrimination

Discrimination is treating a person or group less favourably than another person or group because of their race, skin colour, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or some other protected attribute or characteristic as specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

There are two types of discrimination:

  • direct; and
  • indirect.
Caution: Discrimination in the workplace is unlawful under health and safety legislation, and state and territory anti-discrimination legislation.

Direct discrimination

Definition: Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is treating a person with a prescribed attribute differently than a person without that attribute.

You will directly discriminate against a worker if the way you treat them is:

  • because of an attribute they have, or a characteristic that people with that attribute generally have (even if that is not the only reason for the treatment); and
  • less favourably than you treat or would treat another worker without that attribute in the same circumstances.