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Things Just Got Worse: New Laws Discriminate Against Lgbti Workers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The CTU Out@Work Council says that new workplace laws, coming into effect Friday 1 April, will make it easier for employers to discriminate against workers based on their gender identity or sexuality. The extension of the 90-day fire at will legislation means that an employer can sack any worker in the first 90 days of their employment without having to give a reason. Sacked workers will have no right of appeal.

Out@Work Co-convenors Karena Brown and Jo Wrigley are clear that the new laws will restrict the right of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, Takataapui, Fa'fafine and queer) workers.

"This law makes a mockery of internationally recognised human rights. It reduces the standards of acceptable employer behaviour and it provides every employer with the right to unfairly dismiss a worker with no right of appeal. The provision is unjust and it will be used unjustly. No worker should be afraid about their future because of other people's prejudices," says Karena Brown.

"Studies have shown that more than half of LGBTI workers face discrimination on the job or when trying to get a job. We know that many LGBTI people don't get offered jobs and when they are "out" at work are often physically and verbally abused. Bad employers will now be able to discriminate against LGBTI workers with impunity," she said.

Jo Wrigley points out that although discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal this does not alter the fact that it occurs.

"Often LGBTI workers will choose to leave their employment rather than take a case of discrimination because of the requirement to go public about their sexual orientation/gender identity. This new 90-day fire-at-will law means that there is now another way for LGBTI to be discriminated against," Wrigley says, "and believe me, it will happen."

"This law takes away the right to legal remedy and appeal and will negatively affect recruitment, retention and productivity. It is also anti-family in that many LGBTI families with carer or parenting responsibilities will face uncertainty when looking to return to work or take up new career opportunities," she says.

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