It is against the law to treat staff unfairly because of a disability, regardless of whether the disability is permanent or temporary.
Discrimination against disabled staff may include:
- dismissal or demotion
- denying or limiting access to promotion, transfer, bonus pay, training or any other benefits
- unreasonable workplace policies, practices and procedures.
Discrimination can also happen because of a perceived disability. If you assume a disabled person is not able to do the job without checking, it could be disability discrimination.
It is also unlawful discrimination to treat people unfairly because of a disability they had in the past or one they may develop in the future.
Trevor injured his back ten years ago while working as a builder. He lodged a WorkCover claim, and after rehabilitation was able to return to work. Trevor later applied for a new job in a warehouse. When asked if he had any previous WorkCover claims, Trevor told the employer about his claim from ten years ago. When he didn't get the job, he was told "since you've injured your back before, we don't think you should be doing any lifting". Trevor could claim he was discriminated against because of a preceived disability.
You are also liable if staff discriminate against each other because of a disability, and you may be held responsible.
If you are unsure of your rights and obligations regarding disabled staff, contact us for advice.