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SeniorLaw Services - Discrimination
Types of discrimination

In NSW it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis that they belong to a particular group of people.

Unfair treatment or harassment can occur in many situations. Types of unlawful discrimination in NSW relate to:

Age, race, sex, carers’ responsibilities, marital status, homosexual or lesbian, transgender, disability or discrimination by reason of your relatives or associates.

Complaints may be taken to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission depending on the type of discrimination.

If a complaint is taken to the Tribunal it will attempt to conciliate and investigate the facts. Complaints cannot be made that are frivolous or lack substance otherwise the Tribunal may dismiss the complaint and order the person making the complaint to pay the costs of the inquiry.

If you feel you may have been the target of any type of discrimination please contact us to discuss the circumstances. Discrimination is not always unlawful under the Anti-Discrimination Act. Recent developments have occurred in the law in regard to age discrimination following the introduction of the Commonwealth Age Discrimination Act 2004. We can advise you of the most appropriate course of action to take in regard to your complaint. Time limits do apply so prompt action is required.

Age discrimination

You should not accept unfair treatment or harassment directed at you because of your age. Harassment can also be a type of age discrimination. It can take any form of behaviour that is not wanted which humiliates, offends or intimidates you.

The law in New South Wales provides wide protection to you against unfair treatment or harassment on account of:

Your age, or
The age of any of your relatives, work colleagues or people you associate with
Compulsory retirement

Under the Commonwealth Age Discrimination Act 2004 it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the ground of age in areas including:


This can include people working in part-time and temporary employment.

In determining who should be offered employment or the conditions of employment, it is not only the employer, but also anyone acting on behalf of the employer, who must be careful not to discriminate against a person on the question of age.
Access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training must be available to all in the workplace and not denied to anyone on the ground of age.
Employment agencies have a special exemption which means it may not be unlawful if they discriminate against a person on the ground of age if the person is unable to carry out the necessary requirement of the work he or she wants to do because of age.



Education authorities may be in breach of the terms of the Act if they discriminate against a person for reason of age by:

Refusing to accept the person’s application for admission, or
Expelling the student, or
Limiting/denying access to benefits provided by the authorities.

Access to premises

It doesn’t matter whether payment is involved or not for a breach to occur if someone is discriminated against by reason of their age when it comes to being allowed access to, or use of premises that are used by the public generally or just a section of the public. This would also apply if the person was required to leave premises or to cease using facilities.

Provision of goods, services and facilities

Protection under the Act also applies to goods and services being provided to a person without age being an issue. This may amount to unlawful conduct irrespective of whether payment was involved or not.

It is important to note that the liability of persons involved in unlawful act of age discrimination extends to include:

Any person who causes, instructs, induces, aids or permits another person in the illegal conduct.

Age discrimination does not include discrimination on the grounds of a disability.

If you feel you may need our help in any of these areas do not hesitate to contact us for advice on the merits of your claim. You have the legal right to take action in situations which are directed at your age or the age of a relative or associate.

Time limits do apply and start running from the date of the act of discrimination. It is difficult to obtain approval to lodge a claim outside the statutory time limits so prompt action is required in pursuing your legal rights.

Compulsory retirement

Compulsory retirement, with a few exceptions, is illegal in NSW. Many older Australians with considerable expertise were forced to retire at 65. Age is no longer a bar to employment as work performance and efficiency have become the primary requirements. Any previous retirement age that you believed was compulsory no longer applies.

You may discontinue working at the old retirement age if you wish, or continue in your employment provided you possess the job capabilities. The choice of retirement is not one for your employer to make.

There are a number of situations which may amount to compulsory retirement. These include, but are not limited to, when an employer:

Retires you due to age 
Threatens to retire you due to age
Puts workers on open contracts and older workers on fixed term contracts
Offers important training sessions to young workers in preference to older ones to induce retirement

If you believe you have been subjected to compulsory retirement or feel threatened by the likelihood of this occurring please contact us without delay.

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SeniorLaw Sydney (ABN: 33 560 807 269)
Level 5, Castlereagh Chambers
64 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Tel. (02) 9235 3160
Fax. (02) 9235 2733

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