Discrimination complaints up almost 50%: FWO

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Discrimination complaints up almost 50%: FWO

The number of workplace discrimination complaints jumped 46% last financial year, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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The number of workplace discrimination complaints jumped 46% last financial year, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

In 2010–11, the FWO received an assessed 1171 complaints, compared with 801 complaints during the previous financial year.

The most common complaint was alleged discrimination on the grounds of physical or mental disability (20%), followed by alleged discrimination over age (13%), and family or carer responsibilities (12%).

A significant number of complaints related to alleged discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy (8%), sex (8%), and social origin (4%).

Meanwhile, alleged discrimination based on colour, national extraction, political opinion and sexual preference each accounted for 2% of complaints, and alleged discrimination based marital status and religion each accounted for 1%. 

‘Right to work without fear of discrimination’
 
The FWO, Nicholas Wilson, reminded employers that the Ombudsman has had the power to investigate discrimination in the workplace since the Fair Work Act commenced on 1 July 2009.

‘Every employee has the right to work without fear of discrimination,’ he said

‘Fair Work inspectors can investigate allegations of discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer responsibilities, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.’

‘A specialist anti-discrimination team has been established within the Agency’s Complex Investigations & Innovation branch.’

Last financial year, the FWO ran education and awareness campaigns on age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and sexual orientation and preference.

The FWO has information about discrimination and various workplace entitlements available on the website.

 
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