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Disability and work

It is unlawful to treat a worker unfairly because of a disability. It doesn't matter if the disability is permanent or temporary.

If you have a disability, your employer should provide any special facilities or services you need to do your job, unless it would cause them unjustifiable hardship. These are called reasonable accommodations.

Discrimination can also occur because of a perceived disability. This is when an employer thinks a person with a disability can't do the job, without checking if they can.

It is also unlawful to treat people unfairly because of a disability thay had in the past or 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 perceived disability

Under equal opportunity law, employers cannot discriminate because of a disability during recruitment, retrenchment or at work. Disability discrimination at work may include:

  • firing or demotion
  • denying or limiting access to promotion, transfer, bonus pay, training or any other benefits
  • unreasonable workplace policies, practices and procedures.

Employers are also liable if staff members discriminate against each other because of disability.

If you think you have been discriminated against at work because of your disability, contact us for advice.

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