Types of Discrimination

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination happens when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics. This is known as ‘direct discrimination’.

Example: An employer refused to hire a suitably qualified person as a shop assistant because they were Aboriginal, and instead hired a less qualified person of a different racial background. This could be racial discrimination.

It is also discrimination when a rule or policy applies to everyone but has the effect of disadvantaging some people because of a personal characteristic they share. This is known as ‘indirect discrimination’.

Example: A policy that says only full-time workers will get access to professional development could discriminate against women who are more likely to work part-time to accommodate their family responsibilities.

Discrimination is against the law in South Australia when it is:

  • is based on a particular personal characteristic or ground specified in the Act (see the next page);
  • happens in an area of public life; and
  • causes loss or humiliation.

The Act also makes unlawful:

  • sexual harassment
  • victimisation

It is also unlawful to treat people unfairly because they are whistleblowers.

For further information see our What is Discrimination? Fact Sheet

         Types of discrimination