Cairns Employment and Workplace Lawyers | Employment and Workplace Lawyers

Woolworths Sued for Offensive Questions

employment lawyers cairns | Employee | Preston Law

Most people are aware that discrimination on the basis of attributes such as gender, race and age is unlawful. But not everyone is aware that it can also be unlawful to ask questions upon which discrimination could be based.  

In the case of Willmott v Woolworths Ltd [2014] QCAT 601, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) considered a claim made by a worker in relation to Woolworths’ online job application system.

The worker was applying for a job at a petrol outlet owned by Woolworths. During the online application process, the worker was required to complete mandatory fields including his gender and date of birth, and was asked to upload proof of his right to work in Australia. The worker did not complete the application because he was offended by the questions being asked.

He made a claim to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland alleging that Woolworths was requesting information on which unlawful discrimination might be based, in contravention of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

The worker alleged that details of his gender could be used to discriminate on the basis of his gender, his date of birth could be used to discriminate on the basis of his age, and the documents showing proof of his right to work in Australia could be used to discriminate on the basis of his race.

Woolworths defended the claim, and the matter was referred to QCAT for a hearing. Ultimately, QCAT agreed with the worker and came to the conclusion that Woolworths’ conduct in requiring the employee to provide a date of birth and gender on the application form, and provide documents showing proof of his right to work in Australia, was not reasonable and was a contravention of the Act.

The worker was awarded compensation of $5,000.

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