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DDA conciliation: employment

Disability Disability Rights
Friday 14 December, 2012

Conciliation
outcomes: employment

Updated October 2009 For more recent outcomes please refer to the Commission's conciliation register

Reminder: Conciliated settlements are usually made without admission
of liability and may not provide firm precedents for the outcome in other
cases.

2009

Second chance

A man who had applied for a managerial position complained that he had been unsuccessful because of a previous back injury and workers compensation claims.

The position was readvertised and during the second recruitment process the Commission notified the respondent of the complaint. The complainant was offered the position.

2008

Adjustments in safety training

A man who has a lower arm amputation complained that he had not been permitted to participate in a number of components of a safety training course.

The complaint was resolved when the training authority agreed to permit him to undertake these components using modified equipment and if successfully completed to issue him with partial certification which would recognise those situations where he could and could not perform the roles required.

Accessible parking

A worker who uses a wheelchair complained that she was unable easily to enter and exit from her car in the employees' car park due to narrow spaces. The complaint was resolved when the employer allocated the worker use of a wider space.

Reasonable adjustments

A man who has Hepatitis C complained that he had been rejected for a trade training program because of inaccurate assumptions about his capacity to perform the tasks required on the basis of his disability and assumptions that required adjustments would be too difficult or expensive. It appeared that the only adjustment required, if any, would be adjustments to the height of a workbench. The complaint was settled with compensation of $20,000 and a commitment to provide appropriate disability awareness training for staff.

Transfer to accommodate child's disability

A police officer complained that he had been assigned to a location which made it difficult to have access to services and supports required by his daughter's disability. The complaint was resolved when the police service advised that transfer to the officer's preferred location had become available and would be offered.

Police training permitted

A woman who has diabetes complained that her application to undertake police training had deferred. The complaint was resolved when the police service agreed that the woman could undertake the physical capacity test required of trainee officers, subject to their receiving clearance from her medical specialist.

2007

Adjustments by qualifying bodies

A man who is deaf complained that a professional licensing body had discriminated against him by refusing to provide some of its information in written form. The complaint was resolved when the authority agreed that all required information would be provided in writing on request.

In another case, a woman who is blind complained that a professional body provided information on its website only in PDF form which was inaccessible to her. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised it was upgrading its website to provide all information in accessible HTML format.

Reasonable adjustment regarding hearing impairment

A woman with a hearing impairment complained that she had been discriminated against when a job offer as a customer support officer was withdrawn after a hearing test had indicated she had less than 90% hearing. The complaint was resolved when the employer apologized and advised that although 90% hearing was a functional requirement of the job this should have been assessed taking into account possible reasonable adjustments, and the application should be re-considered accordingly.

Office entry access improved

A woman who has a mobility impairment complained that the foyer of her employer's offices was inaccessible due to heavy doors and a slippery polished stone floor. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to install automatic doors and resurface the floor to provide a safer degree of slip resistance.

Discrimination in atendance policy

A Commonwealth Government employee who is living with HIV / AIDS complained that when he was absent through illness his work team had been made ineligible for a workplace award which took attendance into account. The complaint was resolved when the agency agreed to review its attendance policy and its approach to workplace recognition.

Medical checks reviewed

A woman complained that she had been discriminated against when she was not successful in a job application after declining to provide some information in response to medical question which she saw as broader than justified by the inherent requirements of the job. The complaint was resolved when the employer agreed to review its medical checks and take into account feedback on their extent.

Eligibility for overtime

A man who has a physical disability complained that employees with disabilities, other than that disabilities acquired at work, were not eligible for overtime rosters. The complaint was resolved when the employer apologized and compensated the employee for lost overtime earnings.

2006

Promotion opportunities for employee with mental illness

A woman who has an anxiety disorder complained that her applications for advancement in a public sector position had been rejected because she had experienced two anxiety attacks in two years. The matter was resolved when the employer agreed to assist her in drafting a new application for advancement; to provide her with project work which would strengthen her application; arrange for an independent committee to consider her application ; accept the application if this was recommended by the independent committee; and arrange training for relevant staff on mental health issues in the workplace.

Re-assessment of fitness for duties

A man complained that he had been rejected for selection in a trainee position with a Commonwealth Government agency because a medical assessment had been given that because of lymphodoema (a condition causing swelling ) in one of his legs he would be unable to perform the duties required. The complainant argued that his condition had not interfered with performance of similar duties previously. The complaint was resolved with an agreement for specialist examination to determine the complainant's fitness for the required duties, including with any reasonable adjustments identified as required and as possible without unjustifiable hardship; for the complainant to be employed in order of merit if assessed as fit for duty; and for compensation of $2000 to be paid.

Assessment of diabetic worker

A man who has diabetes complained that he had been rejected for qualifications required for the transport control position he had been training for and had been dismissed as a consequence. The complaint was resolved when the certifying authority agreed that the man would be permitted to undertake the certification course required.

Opportunities for blind public servant

A Commonwealth public servant who is blind complained that he had been discriminated against when applying for a more senior position, in that the process involved an online application form and tests which were not accessible in all their parts, so that he was disadvantaged in applying for the position and was unsuccessful. The matter was resolved when the employer agreed to pay $12,000 compensation; review its recruitment process to ensure accessibility and consult with Vision Australia in the course of this review; and deal appropriately with applications for higher duties from the employee.

Adjustments in interview process

A man who has a vision impairment complained that when he applied for a telemarketing position, no adjustments were made in the testing process, such as large screen or adaptive software for computer based testing, despite notice having been provided of his need for such adjustments. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability with payment of $2000 compensation and an agreement to review disability policies and procedures.

Professional development and opportunities for blind employee

A woman who is blind complained that the government department where she worked had not given her the same access to performance management and staff development processes as other employees and had not given her adequate support in integrating adaptive technology into mainstream systems, such that her performance had been affected and her contract not renewed. The matter was settled without admission of liability with payment of $10,000 compensation and an agreement to meet to review adjustments for vision impaired staff.

Return to work for bar manager

A man who is hepatitis C positive complained that when he had a nosebleed at work he was given a written warning and threatened with dismissal after 15 years employment. The matter was settled with payment of $550 compensation and an agreement that the man could return to work with provision being made for flexible use of sick leave if required.

2005

Temporary disability and employment

A young woman complained that after she had two episodes of glandular fever she had been dismissed from her job as a waitress because the employer considered her unreliable. The complaint was settled with payment of $3000 compensation and an agreement to undertake training on equal employment opportunity issues.

Accommodating deafness in the workplace

A Commonwealth public servant complained that his deafness was not being adequately accommodated in his employment. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to arrange interpreters where available for team meetings and provide notes of meetings and to provide supervisors with information on accommodating deafness and hearing loss.

Managing mental illness at work

An electronics technician who has bi-polar disorder complained that he had been discriminated against at work because of his disability when his fitness for work was questioned and his performance criticised after an unauthorised absence. The matter was resolved when the parties agreed to adopt a protocol for the employee and his managers to manage the employee's illness at work.

Part time employment to accommodate carer responsibilities

A man employed as an employment consultant complained that he had been discriminated against when he was refused permission to reduce his working hours from 9-5 to 9-3 to care for his wife who has cerebral palsy and assist her with child care commitments. The employer had been unwilling to agree because of its small size and implications for meeting its duties to staff and clients. However, the matter was resolved when the employer agreed to a reduction in hours two days a week, and further reductions if part time staff could be recruited.

Adjustments in assessment procedures

A man who is blind complained that his employment had been terminated after he failed to meet required benchmarks in performance tests. The format of one of the tests had not been checked to ensure it was compatible with his adaptive technology and he could only read 12 of the 25 questions. The matter was resolved with payment of $5000 compensation and an agreement to recognise the role of the Royal Society for the Blind and other service providers in supporting clients into sustainable employment and in assisting in workplace adjustment issues.

Colour blindness

A number of employees of a public transport authority complained that they had been discriminated against in being restricted in their employment on the basis of revised medical standards for colour vision for officers with safety sensitive duties. The complaints were resolved with an agreement to develop and apply a practical test to determine whether officers had appropriate ability to identify signals.

Disability accommodated by promotion of experienced worker

A transport worker who had sustained an injury restricting his lifting ability complained that he was being discriminated against in not being permitted to return to work. The employer responded that the lifting restrictions prevented the man performing the inherent requirements of his job. The matter was resolved however when it was agreed that the man's experience meant he could return to work in a training position which his disability would not prevent him performing.

Resolution of safety issues

A woman who has arthritis and uses a walking stick complained that her employer had required her to take leave until such time as she had a hip replacement performed. The employer indicated that there was no intention to discriminate against her but that there were safety issues for a person with a physical disability in the factory work concerned. The complaint was settled when the parties agreed on a return to work in alternative duties, and re-crediting of leave taken, pending an independent assessment of safety issues and the possibility of resolving them, with both parties agreeing to abide by the results of this assessment.

Funding of adjustments

A Commonwealth government employee who uses a wheelchair complained that his employer required him to pay for a disabled parking space at work. The complaint was settled when the employer agreed to refund the charge.

Training in managing employees with mental illness

A man who has a depressive illness complained that his work supervisor had made insulting comments about the effects of his illness and medication. The complaint was settled with an agreement to improve management training in managing employees with disabilities.

2004

Sexual harassment because of disability

A woman complained that when she returned to work after a workplace injury she had been harassed by inappropriate sexual discussion in the office and pornographic materials being left on her desk. She believed that this was in response to her having lodged a workers compensation claim. The matter was settled with payment of $10,000 compensation.

Employment termination compensated

An employee of a State government instrumentality complained that she had been discriminated against when she was dismissed after she had had spinal surgery and had made a workers' compensation claim for depression. The matter was settled without admission of liability with payment of $17500 compensation.

Illnesses accommodated

A woman who has a thyroid condition and a depressive illness complained that she had been discriminated against when she was required to move to part time employment in her job in a call centre for a Commonwealth agency. The matter was settled when the respondent agreed that the employee should have been permitted to use sick leave rather than being transferred to part time work, and repaid the difference in earnings which had resulted.

Lift access for blind employees

A man who is blind complained (against his employer and the building owner) that the lifts in the building where he works did not give any audible announcement of which floor the lift was on, and that the volume of audible signals that a lift had arrived was insufficient. The matter was settled when audio announcements were installed.

Reasonable adjustment in safety equipment

A woman whose foot had been injured in an accident complained that a Commonwealth agency had withdrawn a job offer to her when it formed the view that she would be unable to wear safety boots which were required for the job. The matter was settled when the woman was offered a job and the respondent indicated that the initial withdrawal of the job offer had been an error due to failure to follow the organisation's process for considering needs for adaptive equipment.

Medical clearance clarified

A man with schizophrenia complained that he had been discriminated against
when he was unsuccessful in applying for a job as a food processing worker.
The complaint was settled when the respondent advised that a requirement
for medical clearance for the job had been misunderstood as referring
to the man's condition when what was required was health clearance for
working with food, and that the complainant had been approved to commence
work.

2003

Adjustments for vision impaired employee

A man with a vision impairment complained that his employer, a Commonwealth
Government agency, had failed to accommodate his disability effectively.
The lifts in his work area were not accessible because Braille indicators
kept falling off, and some software used in the workplace was not accessible
or compatible with adaptive technology. The complaint was settled when
the employer agreed to install permanent Braille indicators, to develop
an I.T. accessibility protocol and to include vision impaired employees
with relevant expertise on an accessibility working group.

Employment restored

A man with a range of disabilities including vision and hearing impairment
and arthritis complained that he had been discriminated against when his
employer of more than 20 years told him he should be on the Disability
Support Pension instead of working and then suspended him from work on
the basis that his arthritis put him at risk of injury. The matter was
resolved when the employer restored sick leave credits that had been used
while the complainant was suspended, and paid $5000 compensation.

Support on the job

A man with muscle weakness in one leg complained that his request to
have a stool to sit on in his work at a department store had not been
accommodated. The complaint was resolved when a stool was provided after
the initial phone call from the Commission to the employer.

Employee compensated for inaccessible software systems

A man with a vision impairment complained that his employer, a Commonwealth
Government agency, had discriminated against him because some of its computer
systems were not compatible with adaptive technology so that he lacked
access to some information and promotion opportunities. The complaint
was settled with payment of $10,000 compensation.

Medical retirement avoided

A woman with a vision impairment and a history of seizures complained
that she had been discriminated against when her Commonwealth public service
employer attempted to have her compulsorily retired on medical grounds
and suspended her from duty for an extended period awaiting medical assessments.
The complaint was settled with repayment of costs of medical assessments
which the complainant had arranged for herself to resolve the issues and
re-crediting to her of leave she had been required to take.

Fit for duty

A woman who had a history of childhood asthma and a thyroid condition
complained that she had been discriminated against when she was rejected
for employment by a Commonwealth agency whose functions require a high
level of medical fitness. The matter was settled when the respondent agreed
to re-assess the applicant's medical fitness, agreed that she did not
have a current asthmatic condition and that her thyroid condition was
not relevant to the requirements of the job, and that she would be eligible
for consideration in the next available recruitment round.

Working hours adjusted

A woman with a health condition complained she had been discriminated
against when her employer declined a request to reduce her working hours.
The matter was settled when a reduction in working hours was agreed.

Dismissal for not disclosing disability compensated

A Commonwealth public servant with an overuse injury advised his supervisor
in his second day of work in a position that his wrists were becoming
sore. He was given voice recognition equipment and software to minimise
keyboard work but was then suspended for misconduct for not having disclosed
his disability and having stated in his application he was fit for the
full range of duties. The complaint was settled with payment of $15,000
compensation.

Discrimination because of breast cancer treatment

A woman being treated for breast cancer complained that she had been
discriminated against by being asked to resign and having her performance
criticised after she negotiated a reduction to a four day week. The complaint
was settled with payment of $17,000 compensation.

In another case a woman who had required time off work with a Commonwealth
government agency for breast cancer treatment and related medical issues
complained that she had not been provided with adequate reasonable adjustment
and had been pressured to resign. The complaint was settled with an agreement
to re-employ the complainant, to provide $11,000 compensation for lost
wages, and to devise an appropriate rehabilitation program.

Inadequate medical assessment

A woman with vision impairments complained that she had been discriminated
against when her application for employment with a Commonwealth agency
was refused on medical grounds. In conciliation it was agreed that further
assessment should have been undertaken including fuller consideration
of how the applicant could have performed the requirements of the job
concerned. The matter was settled when the applicant was reassessed as
eligible for employment and compensated for the period she had been unemployed.

Medical assessment procedure modified

A man with an anxiety disorder complained that he had been discriminated
against when he was rejected for recruitment by a police force. One medical
opinion had indicated that his disability was controlled by medication
and presented no barrier to service as a police officer but the respondent
had relied on another opinion indicating that he should be rejected. The
matter was settled with an apology and an agreement that the respondent
would review its procedures for dealing with conflicting medical advice.

Discrimination in public sector employment

A woman who was employed by a State government agency complained that
when she developed a spinal condition she was discriminated against by
being subjected to derogatory comments and inflexibility regarding hours
of work and use of leave, and by not having her contract renewed. The
matter was settled with payment of $5000 compensation and an agreement
by the agency to review its code of conduct.

Questions about wife's disability

A council employee complained that when he applied for a promotion he
was asked questions about his wife's health condition (which had required
periods in hospital and consequently some time off work for the complainant),
and was then not successful in his application. He alleged he had been
discriminated against as an associate of a person with a disability. The
council denied that the outcome was related to the applicant's wife's
disability, but agreed in settlement of the complaint to provide further
training to staff on discrimination issues, to apologise to the complainant
and to compensate him for hurt he had suffered.

Employee with intellectual disability paid below award rate

The father of a man with an intellectual disability complained that his
son, who was employed in a café as a casual kitchen hand, had been
paid below the award rate. The man had left the job and secured employment
elsewhere before the complaint was lodged. The respondent denied liability
but agreed to provide the former employee with an amount of $422.00, which
was the difference between what he earned and what he would have earned
had he been paid the award rate. The respondent acknowledged that the
complainant's son had been a conscientious worker and also provided him
with an employment reference.

Access to application process

A man who has a vision impairment complained that when he wished to apply
for a post-graduate position offered by a government department he found
that the on-line application process was not accessible to a person with
vision impairment. He had contacted the government department and requested
the on-line application be made available to him in a word processor format
document (which he was able to use with the appropriate computer software)
but this request was refused on the ground that it was too difficult.

When the Commission contacted the respondent department the on-line application
was quickly made available in word processor format. The respondent also
made a commitment to make available all on-line applications in this format
in future.

Return to full duties

A delivery officer who had worked on modified duties because of pain
from an accident complained that he had been discriminated against when
he was not allowed to return to full duties when he advised his employer
he was fit to do so, because the employer had continuing concerns regarding
possible occupational health and safety liability. After receiving the
complaint the employer arranged for the employee to undergo MRI scanning
to ascertain whether he had any residual spinal or other injuries which
might impact on his fitness for the duties concerned. The scan showed
no abnormality and the employer returned him to full duties. He has advised
that he is now performing his old job and suffering no pain.

Return to work for employee with psychiatric disability

A woman working as an administrative assistant complained that she had
been discriminated against when she was not allowed to return to work
after taking leave when she developed a psychiatric illness. There had
been conflicting assessments from the employers psychiatrist and her own
psychiatrist. but no further medical assessment was requested.

The matter settled at conciliation with payment of $75000 compensation.

Cancer: harassment and discrimination claimed

A physical education teacher who was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer
complained that he had been discriminated against in arrangements to consider
his application for promotion. An interview was conducted late in the
afternoon although he had advised the school that the chemotherapy drugs
had a severe effect on him in the afternoons. He claimed he felt extremely
unwell during the interview and was not selected for the position because
of poor interview performance. He also complained of harassment on the
basis that the deputy principal had advised him that some teachers were
feeling very uncomfortable having him around, because some of them had
family members who had died of cancer and his presence made them uneasy.

He had resigned from the school and moved his family to another city,
due to the stress he was experiencing from these events.

The conciliation process was conducted by teleconference due to the different
locations of the parties. The matter was resolved by the school agreeing
without admitting liability to waive the last term's outstanding school
fees for his two daughters (who had attended the same school) amounting
to $5,000 and to pay him $15,000 in general compensation for stress and
anxiety, hurt and humiliation.

Workplace access

A government employee who uses a wheelchair complained that in order
to gain access to his place of work he is required to go to a side entrance
and call his colleagues to assist him into the building, and that although
he had requested short term and long term arrangements be made so that
he can gain independent access to the building there had been no progress
to date.

In response to the complaint the employer agreed in the short term to
have a temporary ramp available at the main entrance of the building and
for security staff to be available to assist the complainant into the
building. The respondent also agreed to give priority to installing a
permanent ramp at the side entrance of the building.

Information access for vision impaired employee

A man who has a vision impairment requiring him to access written materials
in a slightly larger than normal size fontis employed as a senior technical
analyst in a large government department. He complained of discrimination
affecting his access to infromation at work. A significant part of his
work involves the analysis of extensive data sheets which are produced
monthly in electronic form in 4-point font for efficiency. He had advised
the department of his disability and his need for reasonable accommodation
when he commenced employment. When he raised the difficulty he has with
the chart in small font, the manager advised him that he could locate
the section of the data relevant to his area of responsibility and then
electronically enlarge it. He stated that to traverse dozens of pages
in very small font in order to locate the relevant section was extremely
difficult and time-consuming for him and had not proved practical to enlarge
the whole document. He also claimed that he needed to sit at the front
of the room for staff training sessions so that he can see the overheads
and whiteboards and that when a training room was set up with his work
group at the back and he moved to the front, he told the manager the reason
he needed to see but was denied the change of seating and the told to
go to the back of the room. He stated he felt very embarrassed by this
episode in front of his own and other section work groups on the day.

A conciliation conference was conducted. The matter was resolved on the
day by the department agreeing to provide the employee with reasonable
accommodation for his disability in future by isolating the section of
the charts he needs and forwarding him the particular section of the document
each month rather than sending the entire document, to advise his manager
that he must provide the employee with reasonable accommodation for his
visual disability in any activity which requires him to see what is being
presented, to provide disability awareness training as a component of
its workplace diversity training program being developed for the whole
department, and to pay himthe sum of $2,000 in general compensation for
the difficulties he has encountered with his work and for stress and embarrassment.

Employment agency and hepatitis C discrimination

A woman who has Hepatitis C complained that when she advised the agency
that she had Hepatitis C two of the employment consultants asked her if
she was going to tell a prospective employer at a food handling factory
about her medical condition, question her inappropriately and warned her
not to infect the public. The complainant states that she was extremely
upset by this and terminated her relationship with the respondent.

A conciliation conference was held to resolve the complaint. The respondent
agreed to provide staff training on the provision of services to people
with disabilities and the requirements of the DDA. The respondent also
provided a written apology and paid the complainant an amount of $1,300.

Restructure while on sick leave

A man complained that while he was on sick leave for depression a number
of changes occurred in his workplace directly affecting his position.
He claimed that his employer has used his disability as a reason why it
was unable to consult with him.

The employer responded that documentation of the meetings held regarding
the restructure were widely distributed; that after the reorganisation
of roles the complainant's classification level was unchanged; that the
complainant had not been at work since the reorganisation of roles and
that he had not availed himself of offers to discuss the new duties on
a number of occasions.

The compliant was resolved through conciliation with an agreement being
signed that without any admission of liability the complainant would accept
a redundancy, $40,000 general damages and withdraw his unfair dismissal
claim.

Discrimination in employment on the ground of psychiatric disability

A woman who was working in a terporary position with a government service
agency complained that she had been discriminated against when an offer
of permanent work was withdrawn. On her pre-employment medical questionnaire
she indicated that she had had treatment for depression. The employer's
medical officer recommended that she undergo a psychiatric assessment.
The psychiatrist was of the view that the complainant would not be able
to cope with the stressful environment in the workplace concerned. The
offer of employment was withdrawn. The complainant alleged that she had
been discriminated against on the ground of disability. She advised that
her own psychiatrist thought she could do the job and did not consider
that she was susceptible to stress and that she had already been doing
the job satisfactorily.

The respondent confirmed that the offer had been withdrawn because of
the medical advice. The respondent was of the view the psychiatrist was
very familiar with the workplace and his opinion could not be disregarded.

The complaint was resolved without admission of liability by the respondent
paying an amount of $5,000 to the complainant.

Lack of drivers licence

A woman who has a vision impairment complained that when she completed
a performance appraisal with her manager and expressed her desire to eventually
move into another role she was advised that she could not do this due
to her inability to drive.

The respondent claimed that it had organised for the complainant to be
assessed in relation to her disability and the assessment provided a number
of recommendations which were offered her but she declined them. The respondent
denies the claim that the complainant was advised that her lack of a drivers
licence was an issue. It claimed that that if an employee wants to use
taxis they are reimbursed the fare.

The compliant was resolved through conciliation with an agreement that
the respondent would provide a written reference and statement of regret
within seven days of date on agreement, arrange disability awareness training
for staff and pay the complainant $4,000 compensation for distress and
anxiety.

Warehouse supervisor with mobility impairment reinstated

The complainant was employed as a warehouse supervisor for some years
by the respondent. The complainant had a workplace injury which resulted
in an impairment to his spine and leg. He alleges that his employment
was terminated because his employer stated that it considered that he
was unable to perform the inherent requirements of his position safely
due difficulties that he was having with his mobility. The complainant
disputes this and states that his role was mostly sedentary. The complainant
claimed the employer had not asked him whether there was any reasonable
adjustment that would assist him to perform his duties and had not raised
any concerns about his performance or mobility prior to terminating his
employment.

The employer stated that they held genuine concerns that the complainant
was unsteady when he walked and could fall or trip in the warehouse and
endanger his safety and that of his fellow workers.

The complainant noted that he had evidence that he could improve his
mobility with a foot brace but had not been given the chance to raise
this as an issue of reasonable adjustment.

The employer agreed to reinstate the complainant to his position and
pay him compensation for lost wages, superannuation and legal costs in
the amount of $52,000.

Impact of lifting restrictions reviewed

The complainant stated that he was employed as a casual employee and
that the job was arranged through an agency which assists people with
disabilities to obtain work. He stated that he dislocated his shoulder
in 1989 and had a pin inserted in it. This resulted in medical restrictions
regarding lifting weights above 10kg or doing repetitive lifting. The
complainant claimed that his employer had discriminated against him on
the basis of his shoulder injury by limiting his duties and reducing his
hours.

The respondent claimed that the complainant provided a recent medical
certificate advising that he was not capable of repetitive lifting and
/or lifting weights in excess of 10 kilograms. It claimed that these restrictions
meant that the complainant was not able to perform the inherent requirements
of the position.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed
without any admission of liability the respondents would after the complainant
had been assessed medically fit for work, arrange for a work place assessment
of the inherent requirements of the position and any reasonable accommodation
which could assist the complainant to complete the inherent requirements
of the position and that it will meet any reasonable cost the medical
assessment and the workplace assessment. The respondents will also notify
all recruitment agencies which provide casual staff for positions at two
specific sites that the complainant is the preferred candidate for any
suitable vacancy.

Harassment

A man who had a speech impairment and a need to clear his throat frequently
as a result of a childhood operation complained that he had been discriminated
against and harassed on the basis of his disability by other employees.
He claimed they continually asked him questions about his disability and
made fun of his throat-clearing, and harassed him by putting grease on
his seat, pouring water in his lunch box and putting a live lizard in
his locker. He complained to the manager about the harassment, but when
his fellow employees denied harassing him, the manager did nothing further.
On one occasion when he felt unwell and was unable to stay to work overtime,
his employment was terminated. He was treated for depression for several
months after the termination.

The complainant advised that, being unskilled, he may find it difficult
to find alternative employment. The complaint was resolved by the respondent,
without any admission of liability, agreeing to provide the complainant
with a written reference and an undertaking that he would not make any
adverse comment about the complainant's work performance if contacted
by a prospective employer.

2002

Accommodating dyslexia

A man with dyslexia was employed by a commonwealth government agency
in an executive level position. He had advised during his interview that
he had dyslexia and would require voice input software to accommodate
his disability. He claimed the software was not functional until a few
days before his employment was terminated, prior to the end of his probation
period; that his performance assessments commented on his writing style
and grammar and this was the major reason his employment was terminated.

The employer disputed that the software was not working and noted that
there were other issues with the complainant's performance, particularly
related to his attitude and difficult behaviour in the workplace. The
complaint settled without admission of liability by payment of $20000
wages and damages.

Workplace access

A woman with a mobility disability complained that access limitations
in her employer's premises resulted in discrimination against her. The
premises were on two levels, both of which the complainant was required
to access in the course of her duties as a public relations officer for
the organisation. Some offices, meeting rooms and the staff kitchen were
all upstairs. The complainant provided medical evidence which indicated
that climbing stairs would exacerbate her condition. She requested that
the respondent arrange for the installation of a lift to accommodate her
disability because otherwise she might have to resign. The employer rejected
proposals for upgrading of the premises on the basis that it would impose
an unjustifiable hardship on it, due to the cost involved. Further information
indicated that there were funds available but the respondent did not want
to apply them to this project, as many other refurbishments were overdue
to upgrade the building.

A conciliation conference was conducted at which the respondent agreed
to install a lift within 6 months of the signing of the agreement. The
complainant was satisfied with this result.

Psychiatric disability and hazardous work

A mining industry worker complained of discrimination after he experienced
an episode of psychosis and had his employment terminated, although medical
advice had indicated that he was fit to return to work but that his condition
would require careful monitoring and review for a further 12 months.

A conciliation conference was conducted. The respondent advised that
there are extremely hazardous working conditions at the works. Workers
use heavy machinery in remote locations with only one other team worker,
four hours away from any assistance. The respondent noted that the complainant's
condition required careful monitoring over an extended period, and stated
that it was not prepared to re-employ the complainant due to its Occupational
Health and Safety obligations for to him and other employees.

The complaint was resolved by the respondent agreeing to provide the
complainant with a written statement of service recording the cessation
of his employment as a resignation, to undertake that if any future employer
contacts the company for a reference, it would advise that his work performance
had been satisfactory until he left "for personal reasons",
it agreed to advise him of the contact details of a number of similar
companies where he may find employment and of relevant TAFE courses in
the fields in which he wishes to gain qualifications, and to pay him a
sum of $3,000 in general compensation.

Only one eye needed to see unfairness

A woman who has one eye complained that because of this she had been
refused a telemarketing position. The complaint was settled with an agreement
to pay $1000 compensation.

Selection for library job

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he had been refused a job
as a library assistant, because the employer thought he could not reach
the top shelves, without giving him an opportunity to demonstrate that
he could do the job. The complaint was settled with an apology, payment
of $2500 compensation and an agreement to improve staff disability awareness
training.

Police applicant survives cancer and discrimination

A woman complained that her application to join a police service had
been rejected because she had cancer of the cervix in the past. The complaint
was settled with payment of $14000 compensation and an agreement to review
medical criteria for the service.

Adjustment to distribution and collection job

A woman with a lower back problem complained that she had been refused
a job involving house to house distribution and pick-up because she could
not carry heavy boxes. She claimed the employer had failed to consider
reasonable adjustment by allowing her to do the job carrying smaller amounts
of material at a time. The complaint was settled when the employer agreed
to review its selection procedure.

Mission impossible: eyesight tested without glasses

A woman complained that she had been refused a position, involving inspection
duties, by a Commonwealth authority because she could not pass an eye
test without her spectacles. The complant was settled when the authority
agreed to offer her a position.

Dismissal while in hospital

A chef complained that when he experienced a severe anxiety attack and
required seven days sick leave during which he was admitted to a psychiatric
hospital, he was dismissed. The complaint was settled with payment of
$55,000 compensation and provision of a reference.

2001

Agreement to review medical evidence

A driver's assistant complained that his employment had been terminated
because of a back operation. The complaint was settled with an agreement
that the employer's medical evidence of unfitness to perform the inherent
requirements of the job would be discussed with the employee and his own
doctor.

Review of colour vision testing

A man complained after he was ruled ineligible for employment with a
security agency because of colour blindness. The complaint was settled
when the employer agreed to conduct more comprehensive testing with a
focus on the requirements of the particular employment.

Diabetic bandleader marches on

A man with insulin dependent diabetes complained that he was to be discharged
from his role as an Army bandleader. The complaint was settled when it
was agreed that the man could continue in his duties subject to regular
review of medical fitness.

Sacked after MS diagnosis

A woman complained that she had been discriminated against when her employment
as a manager was terminated two weeks after she advised her employer she
had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She advised that after a small
amount of time off work for initial tests she had experienced only minor
symptoms and continued to be able to perform the job without any reasonable
accommodation being required. The employer appeared however to believe
that because the effects of MS vary greatly from person to person this
meant that no-one with MS could be relied on to continue working. The
complaint was settled with payment of $6500.

Accommodation of deafness

A woman who is deaf complained of a lack of reasonable accommodation
in the workplace including provision of TTY phones, alternatives to audible
public address announcements, and lack of interpreters for important meetings.
She also alleged harassment by a supervisor for signing with other deaf
employees. The complaint was settled with an agreement to provide awareness
training for staff and supervisers, to provide for text communication
and to pay $5000 compensation.

Adjustment to working hours

A woman who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following an accident
complained that her employer having changed her hours of work meant she
now could not get a lift to work and would need to use public transport,
which made her extremely fearful. The complaint was settled when the employer
agreed that her previous working hours could be maintained and that there
would be consultation before any changes in future.

2000

Employment practices of Commonwealth contracted agency
reviewed

A father complained on behalf of his son, who has an intellectual disability,
that he had been refused employment by a recruitment agency providing
staff to a Commonwealth Government Department because he needed an additional
hour's instruction at the commencement of work although he would be able
to work at the contracted rate thereafter. The Department agreed to review
its diversity policy and ensure that all contractors were aware of their
obligations under that policy.

Access for deaf jobseeker

A deaf person complained that a job search company had refused to arrange
a sign language interpreter for an interview as requested. The complaint
was settled when the company agreed to apologise and to ensure in future
that its practices would include reasonable adjustment for deaf people
including interpreting; that it would conduct staff training on accessibility
and would consult the complainant on training materials.

Hands free access

A woman with occupational over-use injury complained that a voice-activated
computer system had not been installed despite approval from IT staff
for this to occur. Instead she had been requested to transfer to different
duties. The complaint was settled when the software was installed and
$6000 compensation paid.

Employment agency access

The complainant claimed that he was discriminated against on the basis
of his disability by an employment service because he was refused access
to the service and no accommodation was made for his disability. He claims
that the manager advised him that he could not be assisted and that he
should go to a specialist disability job agency. He claims that he was
also advised that "we do not make adjustments here, you have to fit
in the way it is". After a conciliation conference the agency agreed
to resume employment services to the complainant and to pay him $1100
compensation.

Managing hepatitis risk

A woman who works in a laboratory complained that she had been discriminated
against on the basis that she might acquire a disability in future, when
renewal of her employment contract had been called into question because
she had had an unsuccessful Hepatitis B immunization and her employer
was concerned regarding health risks. The complaint was settled with an
agreement that her duties would be redefined to exclude particularly high
risk procedures.

1999

Refusal to permit use of prospective employee's own
adaptive technology: complaint settled

A blind
man complained that he had been discriminated against when he was not
employed after the prospective employer advised him that it could not
permit him to use his own screen reader technology (which translates electronic
text to audible speech) because the computer program could contain viruses,
in spite of assurances provided by an expert on behalf of the complainant.
The matter was settled without admission of liability with payment of
$6000 compensation.

1997

Drivers
licence requirement for social worker reviewed

A
woman with a vision impairment complained that she had been discriminated
against in not being considered for a job as a social worker because she
did not have a drivers licence, which was listed as an essential criterion.
The position involved making some home visits each week and the employer
had considered that public transport would not be efficient for the purpose
and use of taxis would impose an unjustifiable hardship given its recent
investment in cars. After a conciliation conference the matter was settled
without admission of liability on the basis that a drivers licence would
be regarded as desirable rather than essential, since a review had indicated
that two thirds of social workers holding drivers licences could be sufficient
.

Safety
concerns resolved regarding deaf employee

A
man with a hearing impairment complained that he had been discriminated
against by being refused an interview for a window cleaning job. The employer
had been concerned about the man's ability to fulfil safety requirements
and hence his ability to perform the range of work required.  
The complaint was settled without admission of liability with an apology
and acknowledgment that there had been a communication breakdown regarding
the man's previous experience, payment of $2000 compensation and an undertaking
to develop policies to ensure that the situation did not occur again .

Refusal
to employ because of back injury

A
man with a back injury complained that a government business enterprise
had discriminated against him by refusing to employ him. He alleged that
he had been told that the enterprise would not employ people with back
injuries due to the risk of further compensation claims and being compelled
to arrange light duties work. The enterprise denied that these comments
had been made or that the decision  had been on discriminatory grounds,
but agreed to settle the matter without admission of liability with compensation
of approximately $3000.

1996

Dismissal
of vision impaired salesman

A
man who has impaired vision complained that he had been discriminated
against by being dismissed from his job as a salesperson. He claimed that
the store manager had not discussed any problems with him and had declined
offers of assistance from the Commonwealth Employment Service (who had
assisted the employee into the position) with resolving any problems resulting
from limited vision.  More senior management conceded that the store
manager should have taken action to try to correct any problems arising
from the employee's sight deficiency and noted that they had improved
their personnel management to avoid similar situations arising. The complaint
was settled without admission of liability with an apology and $6000 compensation.

Refusal
of interview when seen to have disability

A
man with a mobility disability complained that he had been discriminated
against when applying for an advertised position. The employer had told
him when he applied in person that there was no position available. When
he applied by telephone later that day, however, he was offered an interview.
The matter was settled without admission of liability when the employer
apologised and agreed to pay financial compensation.

Adjustment
of computer training equipment for vision impaired employee

A
Commonwealth employee complained that he had been discriminated against
on grounds of his vision impairment in provision of computer equipment
for training purposes. The matter was settled without admission of liability
with an apology, payment of compensation and agreement to conduct a review
of computer screen requirements for training, which led to provision of
a large sized screen.

Builder
with hearing impairment

A
building worker with a hearing impairment complained he had been discriminated
against by his employer refusing to use a notepad to communicate with
him, by calling him offensive names and by allowing other employees to
make offensive comments to him. The complaint was settled without admission
of liability with an apology and payment of wages for a day's sub-contract
work.

Disability
used as excuse not to employ

A
man with hepatitis C complained that he had been discriminated against
by withdrawal of a job offer when he disclosed his condition. The employer
claimed that the man had been unsuitable for the position and that his
condition had been an excuse for not employing him to avoid hurting his
feelings. The complaint was settled without admission of liability with
a written apology and payment of financial compensation.

Psychiatric
disability complaint settled with independent examination

A
man alleged that he had been refused a position as a parking patrol officer
because of a history of psychiatric illness. The complaint was settled
without admission of liability after the employer arranged for the man's
fitness for employment to be examined independently, and agreed to consider
him when vacancies next arose .

Equipment
for home based work as accommodation

A
woman with an occupational overuse injury complained that she had been
discriminated against by being denied an adequate return to work program
and being dismissed because of her disability. The employer argued that
no light duties were available to enable return to work and that dismissal
had been because of a downturn in business. The complaint was settled
without admission of liability with an apology, a reference, provision
of a computer and other equipment to enable the woman to work from home,
and payment of damages for distress and loss of career opportunities (loss
of income not being included as this had previously been compensated in
settlement of workers compensation claim). 

Dismissal
after exceeding sick leave entitlement

A
woman was dismissed from her job while in hospital recovering from a disorder
associated with her medical condition. She was advised she had been dismissed
because she had exceeded her sick leave entitlement and that regular attendance
at work was a basic condition of her employment. The complaint was settled
without admission of liability with an agreement by the employer, without
admitting liability, to pay compensation for loss of income, damages and
other costs .

Man
with hernia has barrier lifted

A
man had a job offer as a linesman withdrawn when hernias were discovered
in a medical examination, although the physician advised that these should
not interfere with job performance.  The complaint was settled without
admission of liability with an agreement by the employer to appoint the
man to an equivalent position when another vacancy arose.

1995

Dismissal
because of old back injury

A
man complained he had been discriminated against by being dismissed because
of information given to his employer by a third party regarding a lower
back injury he had sustained over 10 years previously. An independent
medical assessment which was arranged only after he was dismissed and
had found alternative employment had indicated no problems which would
have interfered with his duties. The complaint was settled without admission
of liability when the employer provided an apology, financial compensation,
and an undertaking that it was taking steps to prevent a similar situation
occurring in future.

Concerns
about post operative complications addressed

A
woman who had had a gastric stapling operation as treatment for obesity
complained that she had been discriminated against when a Commonwealth
Government authority rejected her application for employment because of
concerns about possible complications from the operation. The matter was
settled without admission of liability with an agreement to consider a
fresh application in the light of a specialist report refuting these concerns.