Resources: Blogs

“Boo” or “Boo-Urns”

Blogs
|

Australia’s racial discrimination laws – Does intention matter?

There was much conversation last week regarding the certain sections of AFL crowds booing and jeering former Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. As most people know Adam is a Sydney Swans AFL player, a proud indigenous man and a prominent advocate on behalf of the Australian indigenous community.

There was much conversation last week regarding the certain sections of AFL crowds booing and jeering former Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. As most people know Adam is a Sydney Swans AFL player, a proud indigenous man and a prominent advocate on behalf of the Australian indigenous community.

The behaviour has certainly opened up significant debate about whether such behaviour is bullying fuelled by racism or if fans were heckling the player for other reasons, such as his on-field performance.

The AFL, various sportspersons, commentators – and even politicians have come out in support of Adam. Not surprisingly but most regrettably, Adam was distressed and given indefinite leave but returned last week to his playing duties. The heartening support widely demonstrated by AFL crowds and others over the past fortnight will hopefully be sending Adam and the indigenous community a strong message of support.

The situation also highlights one of the key aspects of anti-discrimination law and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (the RD Act) which has been generally overlooked in the debate so far – namely, that the claimed intention (or lack thereof) is irrelevant when it comes to considering whether racial discrimination has occurred. The law focuses on the perception of the recipient of the conduct and whether he or she finds the conduct discriminatory. All of the responses to this situation claiming a lack of intention in the booing jeering crowds are misguided from the RD Act point of view.

The RD Act provides that direct and indirect discrimination, on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin is unlawful. However, there is no requirement that the conduct be “intentional” to be racially discriminatory. Further, the RD Act also provides that where an action is done for multiple reasons, and where one of those reasons is because of a person’s race, then that action will be considered to have been done because of the person’s race.

Certainly for employers, the AFL saga serves as a reminder that discrimination – in any of its forms is unlawful and should not be tolerated in the workplace or in the wider community.

For more insight and information regarding State and Federal anti-discrimination legislation, be sure to subscribe to our industry e-updates.

 

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

 

Similar articles

Employer unlawfully discriminated against employee with breastfeeding responsibilities

It’s a tent-s situation

There are a number of personal attributes that are protected by Australia’s federal and state anti-discrimination laws, such as a person’s race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibilities, breastfeeding, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

Read more...

Prevention is better than a cure

Planning end of year work celebrations

As the end of another year approaches, employers are understandingly planning a well-earned opportunity for employees to celebrate the year that has been.

Read more...

Managing Injured Employees - A Guide for Employers

In her usual entertaining and informative style, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer, will guide employers through the tangled web of legislative obligations they face when dealing with an injured employee.

Read more...

Commission confirms inappropriate touching constituted sexual harassment warranting summary dismissal

‘Scuse you

Sexual harassment in the workplace has been the subject of significant reform over the past few years, with an even greater onus on employers now to take proactive measures to minimise or eliminate the risk of sexual harassment in connection with work.

Read more...

Employers delay sinks bid for injunctive relief

Speak now

When seeking to enforce a restraint, it is important that employers seek to enforce the restraint in a timely manner to prevent future or an ongoing breach. Any delay will be considered by the courts when assessing whether it is reasonable to enforce the restraint.

Read more...

Two-year post-employment restraint on hairdresser found to be unreasonable

Splitting hairs

When it comes to drafting post-employment restraints in employment contracts, it is important for employers to consider the purpose of the restraint and whether or not the restraint reasonably serves that purpose.

Read more...

Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Sign up to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to your inbox.