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Workplace Discrimination In Canada And Australia

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Workplace discrimination is the process in which an individual treats another individual applying to, or in a workplace discriminatorily due to a personal characteristic such as race, sex, religion, or any other characteristic protected under the Fair Work Act (2009).

Significance of Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination causes detrimental effects on a small scale to the individual, thereby leading to costing the national Australian economy billions of dollars. A 2015 study released by the (American) National Institute of Health revealed the link between workplace discrimination and negative physical and mental effects on wellbeing, inducing mental health illnesses. Physical effects include a higher likelihood to develop cardiovascular-related illnesses, more change of obesity, and stress which results in higher blood pressure and more. Depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem are a select few of the negative mental illnesses associated with discrimination in the workplace. More people experiencing these effects in an economy will result in a loss of productivity, a decrease in mental health across society, more people engaging in the practices of absenteeism and presenteeism as well as much more, contributing to an economic slowdown. It is estimated that mental health illnesses cost the Australian economy over eleven billion dollars a year, and workplace bullying, experienced by 50% of Australian workers mostly due to discrimination, costs the economy six billion dollars. (Black Dog Institute) The significance of workplace discrimination is huge for both the individual and the national economy, which is why the government has created acts in parliament to protect the workers and limit cases of this happening.

Response of Government

Legislations and Strategies

The government has implemented a number of strategies, passing many acts to protect workers from discrimination. The Fair Work Act 2009, passed by the Rudd government, replaced the Workchoices Act 2006, which was unpopular as it was deemed by many to be unfair to employees and gave too much power to employers. The Workchoices Act diminished the power of trade unions while allowing employers to sack workers with little reason or unfairly and provided limited options to be compensated legally. The Fair Work Act reestablished unfair dismissal laws, enabled more flexible working hours, as well as harsher punishments for small businesses. The unfair dismissal laws reintroduced forced employers to provide proof, a signed witness statement, as well as copies of warnings to the employee to protect them from being fired due to discrimination, or without reason.

Other acts the government has passed include the Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Furthermore, there are fines for discriminating in the workplace, with the maximum penalty for a breach in the FW Act being $63,000 for a cooperation and $12,600 for an individual.

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Evaluation of Strategies

A recent study conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) found that Australia is ranked first in the world for nondiscrimination in the workplace. The strategies that the government has used have therefore been extremely effective. However, Australia still did not receive a perfect score (94.9), while the Australian Fair Work commission still receives more than 14,000 inquiries a year. Although the government has created enough strategies by passing the Fair Work Act in 2009, smarter strategies should be implemented to eradicate workplace discrimination by considering those used by other countries with low discrimination rates, while cooperations and individuals accused of discriminating should be fined even more. More resources for workers should also be provided to inform about what discrimination is, and how they can seek compensation.

Management Strategies of Workplace Discrimination in Canada

In the study conducted by the CFR, Canada was ranked second, with a score of (94.5). Both Canada’s Human Rights Commission and Australia’s Fair Work Commission have almost identical laws and strategies in place to keep discrimination in the workplace to a minimum, but with some differences. Like Australia’s laws, Canada also prohibits discrimination in the workplace, but do not define the term in as much detail. This allows Canadian courts to have a bigger scope in identifying the meaning of discrimination and therefore have the ability to penalise isolated incidents that may not be covered by the Australian Legislation.

How these strategies could be used in Australia

This strategy would be tremendously easy to implement in Australia and has already been done so with many other laws in the national and state constitution. For example, in the New South Wales constitution, a bicycle rider can be punished for riding negligently, furiously or recklessly, with no definition provided for negligently, furiously, and recklessly.


Workplace discrimination is an immense issue in Australia that has significant implications on both the individual and the national economy. Although the government has enacted many strategies that have on the large part been successful, it is necessary to constantly look for ways to make more effective strategies, by comparing strategies with other leading countries in workplace nondiscrimination, such as Canada.

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Workplace Discrimination In Canada And Australia. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Workplace Discrimination In Canada And Australia.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Workplace Discrimination In Canada And Australia. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Workplace Discrimination In Canada And Australia [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
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