Sexuality case studies

The sexuality case summaries are grouped into two categories: court and tribunal decisions, and conciliated outcomes.

Court and tribunal decisions are made after all the evidence is heard, including details of loss and damage. The full text of court and tribunal decisions is available from:

Conciliated outcomes are where the parties have reached an agreement through conciliation at the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

Conciliated outcomes

Sexuality discrimination in work

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Discrimination
Attribute Sexuality
Area Work
Outcome Financial compensation
Compensation $1,000

Summary: A woman alleged she was sacked by her employer because she was a lesbian. The respondent found it offensive that she and her partner had once held hands when they left his premises, and he had also written religious quotes condemning homosexuality in a book she was reading.

He cited work performance and claimed her replacement was a better worker. He agreed that he did not like the fact that she was a lesbian but maintained that it was not the reason she was sacked. The matter settled with compensation of $1,000.

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Sexual harassment and sexuality discrimination in work

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Discrimination and sexual harassment
Attribute Sexuality
Area Work
Outcome Yearly anti-discrimination training
Verbal understandings

Summary: The complainant alleged that her employers and several co-workers had sexually harassed and discriminated against her on the grounds of her sexuality. Her partner also lodged a complaint on the basis of association. The alleged harassment and discrimination occurred in a heavily cultured and institutionalised work environment.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission made contact and meetings were arranged with individual respondents at the worksite to quickly establish the Commission's role and processes. A significant amount of time was spent in preparation of parties by reality testing, dispelling rumour, and exploring the options of structuring the conciliation conferences on the day. It became evident that other issues outside the jurisdiction of the Commission were also involved in the complaint.

It was decided by the two conciliators to run three separate conciliation conferences on the day to assist in dividing the relevant issues and balancing numbers. The outcome resulted in various verbal understandings and three written conciliation agreements which included sexual harassment and anti-discrimination training for staff on a yearly basis.

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Sexuality discrimination and sexual harassment in work

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Discrimination and sexual harassment
Attribute Sexuality
Area Work
Outcome Financial compensation
Apologies
Statement of service
Acknowledged pain and suffering
Compensation $17,500

Summary: The complainant alleged that he had suffered discrimination in his all-male industrial work environment when his co-workers learned he was homosexual. He was subjected to taunts about homosexuals, slammed on the head and hit on the backside and excluded at lunchtime. When the discrimination was reported there were delays in dealing with it.

The complainant went on stress leave and suffered agoraphobia because he feared victimisation as a result of his complaint.

The complainant was reluctant to face so many respondents at conciliation conference due to his emotional state and the fact that his solicitor would be on teleconference. The conciliator arranged for a suitable support person which raised the complainant's faith in the process.

All but one of the respondents denied the allegations. However, the conciliation took a positive turn when the lawyers were negotiating a final figure and the conciliator was talking informally with the respondents. They expressed a willingness to apologise to the complainant for causing him any distress by their behaviour and to allay his fears of retribution if he saw them in public. Although informal, the apologies and handshakes were genuine and contributed to a resolution for both complainant and respondents.

The company agreed to provide a statement of service, acknowledged pain and suffering felt by the complainant and paid $17,500 which included compensation and lost wages.

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