We recently received correspondence a bullied, harassed and ill-treated injured worker sent to the Human Rights Commission. The response the injured worker received was very disappointing. It appears Human Rights are available to anyone who doesn’t work in the public sector or have a workcover claim. Thanks to the injured worker, we know have this in writing!
Human Rights Commission powerless in public sector and workcover matters
The injured worker wrote to the Human rights Commission regarding a Bullying inquiry using the Commission’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Response from the Human Rights Commission
I refer to your email sent on [date] 2013, regarding your employment.
You say you are a [censored] working in a public hospital and are experiencing bullying and harassment.
[statements of injured worker’s allegations of bullying/harassment].
The Australian Human Rights Commission has the power to investigate and conciliate complaints about:
- discrimination because of a person’s race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibilities, age or disability as well as sexual harassment in specific areas of public life, such as, employment, education, providing you with goods and services and accommodation;
- racial hatred that takes place in public;
- discrimination in employment because of a person’s criminal record, sexual preference, trade union activity, religion, political opinion or social origin; or
- breaches of human rights by the Commonwealth of Australia only. This Commission’s human rights provisions do not cover human rights breaches related to state or local government bodies or private organisations.
The Commission can consider claims of disability discrimination in employment as defined under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (the DDA). The definition of disability is very broad and can include temporary or permanent illnesses, an injury, medical condition or impairment.
Under the DDA, an employer is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability. However it is not considered unlawful discrimination under the DDA if such accommodation would impose unjustifiable hardship on the employer or if the employee is not able to perform the inherent requirements of the job because of their disability, despite certain adjustments being made.
If you feel you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your disability/s or that your disability/s have not been reasonably accommodated for by the employer, then it may be open for you to pursue a complaint with the Commission
If you wish to do so, please fill out our online complaint form which can be found on our website at humanrights.gov.au/complaints_information/lodging.html and include details of the alleged ground/s, the alleged conduct and why you believe that you were treated this way because of this ground/s.
Please be aware the Commission is unable to assist if the alleged bullying and harassment is not connected to one or more of the grounds listed above. For information about workplace bullying, please see our website at: www.humanrights.gov.au/bullying/factsheets/workplace_bullying.html
If your concerns relate to general bullying and harassment in the workplace, it may be better dealt with as a workplace health and safety issue. You may wish to contact Workplace Health and Safety Authority in your state or territory, you can find details at: http://www.business.gov.au/BusinessTopics/Occupationalhealthandsafety/Pages/Employerobligationsinyourstateorterritory.aspx
Regarding issues related to pay and entitlements, you may wish to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or you can visit their website at http://www.fairwork.gov.au/.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has an advice line about workplace issues. You can contact the ACTU on 1300 362 223.
You may wish to seek free legal advice from Legal Aid or a community legal centre (www.naclc.org.au) to discuss your options.
Complaint Information Service
Australian Human Rights Commission