Victoria Legal Aid

Discrimination – what's the law?

This video provides basic legal information about Australia's legal system for people new to Australia. It is the part of a series of videos about the law for people who have recently arrived in Australia.

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Text: Discrimination

Ida is walking over to David, her boss, preparing to speak with him about receiving customer service training.

[Vision changes to Ida looking nervous and worried.]

[Vision changes to close-up of David.]

David: Ida, what can I do for you?

[Vision changes to close-up of Ida.]

Ida: I was wondering whether you’ve approved my application to do customer service training.

[Vision changes to David looking hesitant.]

David: Look, um…

[Vision changes to close-up of Ida.]

Ida: Everyone else in the team has done the training. I’ve applied three times, now.

[Vision changes to David looking hesitant.]

David: Yeah… well… customer service is about how you… present yourself. It might not be the best place for you.

[Vision changes to a memory of smiling Ida with a customer.]

Ida: I’m really polite. And customers like me.

[Vision changes to David.]

David: But customers have to… trust you.

[Vision changes to Ida.]

I’m a very honest person. I’m good at my job.

[Vision changes to close-up of David grimacing.]

David: No, no. It’s not that. It’s your… scarf thing.

[Vision changes to Ida looking confused.]

Ida: My hijab?

[Vision changes to David looking defensive with his hands up.]

David: Look, I’m not racist, but some customers don’t like them. So we don’t think you should be in customer service. You won’t be getting customer service training.

[Vision changes to close-up of David.]

David: We’re going to put you in Accounts, away from the customers. We’ve got all sorts back there.

[Vision changes to two colleagues laughing at David’s comment.]

[Vision changes to close-up of Ida.]

Ida: But… I would rather work with the customers. Accounts isn’t my job.

[Vision changes to close-up of David looking stern.]

David: Ida, if you refuse to go to Accounts, I’ll have to let you go.

[Vision changes to wide shot of Ida and David, and Sarah walking by.]

[Vision changes to close-up of David.]

David: Sarah, can you show Ida to Accounts?

[Vision changes to close-up of Sarah.]

Sarah: Sure.

Sarah pulls Ida aside to have a chat.

[Vision changes to Ida and Sarah at a photocopier.]

Sarah: Ida, he can’t refuse to train you, or move you to another department, because of your religion. That’s discrimination. Discrimination is illegal.

[Vision changes to close-up of Ida.]

Ida: But what can I do about it? He’s the boss. And I need this job.

[Vision changes to close-up of Sarah.]

Sarah: There are places you can go for help and advice, like Legal Aid. You could call them and see what your options are. They are free, and no one has to know you are getting help.

[Vision changes to close-up of mobile phone with Victoria Legal Aid website.]

Ida calls Legal Aid.

[Vision changes to Ida talking to Legal Help Officer on the mobile phone.]

Ida: Hello. My boss won’t let me do customer service training because of my religion. He’s moved me to another section of the office. He says customers don’t like my hijab.

[Vision changes to Legal Help Officer talking on the telephone.]

Legal Help Officer: It sounds like you need some information and advice about discrimination.

In Australia, it is against the law to discriminate against people in the workplace because of their religion. Firstly, I need to get some details from you. This is all confidential and will help us work out the best way to help you.

[Vision changes to split screen of Ida and Legal Help Officer speaking on the telephone.]

Legal Help Officer: There are some different options for what you can do next. If you feel comfortable, you could speak to your boss. If you don’t want to do this, or if the behaviour doesn’t stop, we can help you write a letter to your boss explaining that what he is doing is discrimination and that it is against the law.

[Vision changes to close-up of Legal Help Officer.]

Legal Help Officer: This letter could ask your boss to stop the behaviour, apologise to you, pay some money for the damage caused, or do some training to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

[Vision changes to close-up of Ida.]

Legal Help Officer: If this still doesn’t work, we can help you make a complaint with a human rights commission.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 21 September 2022

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