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Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace represent an overwhelming majority of total complaints made to anti-discrimination authorities. Equality and discrimination at work remain pressing concerns for employees, managers and, more broadly, for society. Achieving equality is elusive and, indeed, the very meaning of equality is highly contested.
This subject explores the legal meanings of equality, with a focus on the frameworks through which Australian parliaments have sought to address inequality, discrimination and harassment. It examines federal and state laws that deal with discrimination, including the four federal laws, the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) and the adverse action provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Consideration is given to discrimination based on race, sex, disability, and pregnancy and family responsibilities. The lecturers in this subject combine many years of academic scholarship in this area, engagement in law reform debates and practical client-focused legal advice
This subject provides an examination of the development and current scope of Australian equality and discrimination law, as relevant in employment and work relationships. It will focus on federal and Victorian jurisdictions.
Principal topics include:
- A study of the framework and key features of federal and state legislative provisions dealing with equality and discrimination in the employment context, including theEqual Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth), the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and theAge Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
- An examination of the general protection provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including redress for certain types of adverse action
- Debates regarding the meaning of equality, discrimination and other contested concepts such as choice, especially as choice relates to carer responsibilities
- The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), and its potential impact in the interpretation of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act
- Conciliation, dispute resolution and remedies
- Alternative regulatory regimes, including the National Employment Standards, equal remuneration provisions under the Fair Work Act, contract law and occupational health and safety issues such as bullying
- Current processes of legislative revision at federal and state level
- The potential for future developments in the field.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles of Australian equality and discrimination law within the context of work, including recent developments in this field of law and practice
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as paid maternity leave, genetic discrimination, tension between work and care responsibilities, pay equity, and race, ethnicity and employment disadvantage
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework
- Have an advanced understanding of situations in which issues of equality and discrimination may arise in work relationships and management practices
- Have developed an understanding of work-related equality and discrimination legal regimes in an international and human rights context
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to equality and discrimination issues, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to equality and discrimination at work
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding equality and discrimination in the workplace to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of equality and discrimination in the workplace.
Last updated: 10 November 2023