Unlawful discrimination refers to actions or decisions that are made on a ground—the main ones are race, sex, disability and age—that it is unlawful to act on, or base decisions on.

Historically, the early laws on discrimination were made on race and then sex, but since then the number of unlawful grounds has grown significantly, as have the number of laws, both federal and state, which define them.

The workplace is still the main source of discrimination complaints and the potential for a complaint exists at most stages of the employment relationship. Some of the common areas that complaints arise from are:

  • the wording of advertisements
  • the selection of candidates for interview
  • the interview questions and process
  • the selection decision
  • the terms and conditions in an offer of employment
  • the terms and conditions during the course of employment
  • promotion
  • transfer
  • training
  • pregnancy
  • return from parental leave.