Under the FW Act it is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against a person who is an employee or prospective employee because the person has an attribute that is protected under the FW Act.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is taking an adverse action against someone in the workplace or against a prospective employee because of personal attributes protected by the FW Act. For example, an employer firing a female employee because she is pregnant is adverse action that is discrimination.

Protected attributes include:

  • race
  • colour
  • sex
  • sexual preference
  • age
  • physical or intellectual disability
  • marital status
  • family or carer's responsibilities
  • pregnancy
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • national extraction
  • social origin.

However, adverse action by an employer is not considered discrimination when it is any of the following:

  • not unlawful under a state or territory anti-discrimination law
  • taken because of the inherent requirements of the particular position
  • taken by an institution that is run in accordance with religious beliefs against staff members of the institution.

What is adverse action?

Adverse action is defined in the FW Act. For conduct to be considered unlawful discrimination, the action must fall within the legal definition of 'adverse action' and must be taken because the employee or prospective employee has one of the protected attributes listed above.

Adverse action by an employer includes things like:

  • firing someone
  • not giving someone their legal entitlements like pay or annual leave loading
  • changing someone's job to their disadvantage, for example by taking away overtime or putting them onto shift work
  • treating someone differently to others, for example by always making one person do the unpleasant jobs, instead of sharing the tasks among all the people doing the same job
  • not hiring someone
  • offering a potential employee different (and unfair) terms and conditions for the job compared to other employees, like offering someone less money than other people doing the same job.

Read more about adverse action.

Where to go for help

If you think you've been subjected to unlawful discrimination as a building employee, we may be able to help.

To find out what we can do, please contact us on 1800 003 338 or via email to enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au.

There are also additional federal and state bodies that can help with discrimination, including non-work related discrimination.

For more information, please contact: