Disability Discrimination Act at Work
Following the path to getting your dream job will no doubt raise a number of questions. Taking the time to look at disability legislation in employment, preferably before you start looking for a job, will help you become more confident about your rights and responsibilities and also help to find the answers to those questions.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) gives people with a disability the same employment opportunities as others. It covers all areas of employment and makes it unlawful for a person to be discriminated against because of their disability. This includes:
- recruitment (advertising, providing information about jobs, application forms, interview arrangements, selection tests or examinations, etc)
- staff selection
- conditions of employment (salary, duties, leave entitlements, superannuation, etc.)
- opportunities for training and promotion
- trade or professional registration
- membership of unions or professional associations.
The legislation is applicable to all employees, contract staff, commission agents, agency workers and partnerships of three or more people.
What is discrimination under the DDA?
In Australia people with a disability have the right to the same employment opportunities as other people. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 and the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA) 1977 protects people with a disability from discriminatory treatment in a range of areas including employment, education and access to services, facilities and public areas. In addition you also have the right to workplace adjustments that minimise the impact of your disability in the workplace.
Discrimination under the DDA means treating someone unfairly because they happen to belong to a particular group of people because of a disability. There are three types of unlawful disability discrimination:
- Direct discrimination occurs when a person with a disability is treated less favourably than a person without a disability.
- Indirect discrimination happens where the same treatment applies to all people but the impact is to disadvantage or exclude people with a disability in a way which is not reasonable.
- Harassment can take many forms, it is unwelcome and undesirable behaviour that a reasonable person would find offensive, humiliating or intimidating.
What if I think I am being discriminated against?
If problems arise in the workplace, you should consider if what you are experiencing fits the DDA's definition of discrimination. Keep in mind that not all unfair treatment is discrimination.
There are lots of options to consider if you think you are experiencing discrimination in employment. Depending on your circumstances you:
- should discuss the concerns you have with your employer, this can often help to clear up any misunderstandings and may provide solutions to the situation
- may choose to have a friend, family or advocate assist you to talk to your employer about your situation. Often in larger organisations there is a disability office, they will be able to assist and advise you. If you are getting assistance from a Government employment service you can ask them to help you in resolving the situation
- should investigate the options and procedures your employer or potential employer has in relation to grievances and complaints, and find out the correct person to speak to about your concerns
- can consider contacting The Australian Human Rights Commission or the NSW Anti-discrimination Board to discuss the situation or make a complaint
Disclosure of Legislation in Employment: Education to Employment
NDCO website, provides comprehensive information for employers and students with a disability who have finished their studies and who are looking for work, including information on disability legislation.
Choosing your path: Disclosure it's a personal decision
This NDCO website has been developed for students and employees with disabilities and also for employers, educators and support services. The resource provides information about:
- options and pathways a person with a disability has when deciding to disclose their disability
- the benefits and disadvantages of disclosing, as well as some key considerations to achieving effective disclosure
- the rights, roles and responsibilities of employers, educators and support services when a person discloses a disability in post secondary education and employment.
A brief guide to the DDA: Australian Human Rights Commission
Official website of the Australian Human Rights Commission, provides comprehensive information in relation to the DDA, including FAQ sheets, links to other useful resources.
What should you consider before looking for work: Jobaccess
Australian government website which provides information for jobseekers with a disability, including information on disability discrimination.
Know your rights - legal rights for young people: Lawstuff
This website is designed for young people and includes lots of information, true stories, and lawtoons relating to your legal rights, including topics on employment and discrimination.
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Full text of DDA 1992
NSW Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA) 1977
Full text of the ADA 1977