Getting a job when you have an impairment or a disability is hard.
People with an impairment or disability are twice as likely to be unemployed, and young people are at greater risk of experiencing discrimination in the workplace.
Under the law, a person with an impairment or disability has the right to the same employment opportunities as a person without an impairment or disability.
Unfortunately though, many employers believe that hiring someone with an impairment or disability will cost more, without being aware of government schemes to offset the cost of making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
Sadly, it is also common for employers and co-workers to directly or indirectly discriminate against people with an impairment or disability.
What Is Impairment or Disability Discrimination?
Impairment or disability discrimination happens when people with an impairment or disability are treated less fairly than people without an impairment or disability.
Discrimination also happens when people are treated less fairly because they are relatives, friends, carers, co-workers or associates of a person with an impairment or disability.
Indirect discrimination also occurs when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a particular impairment or disability.
For example, it may be indirect impairment discrimination if the only way to enter a public building is by a set of stairs – making it impossible for a person in a wheelchair to gain access.
The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for an employer or co-worker to treat you unfairly because of your impairment or disability.
People who are relatives, friends and carers of people with a disability or impairment are also protected by the DDA.
The DDA also covers people who may be discriminated against because:
- They are accompanied by an assistant, interpreter or reader
- They are accompanied by a trained animal, such as a guide dog or hearing dog, or
- They use equipment or an aid, such as a wheelchair, guide stick, or a hearing aid
In Queensland, the Anti-Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their impairment, which can include things like:
- the total or partial loss bodily functions; the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body
- mental illnesses, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia
- visual impairment and blindness, hearing impairment and deafness,
- learning difficulties, epilepsy, autism and intellectual disabilities
The Act also covers impairments related to diseases such as hepatitis, AIDS and HIV.
Harassment because of disability, such as insults or humiliating jokes, is also unlawful in the workplace.
How we can help
If you have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of an impairment or disability, we can help.
Our team of industrial advocates and workplace lawyers can represent you in any dealings with your employer, and can even take your case to the Anti-Discrimination Commission or Human Rights Commission, or if necessary, court.
We can also negotiate appropriate compensation for any hurt or humiliation you might have suffered.
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