Unlawful requests for information case studies

The unlawful requests for information 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.

Court and tribunal decisions

Online application asked for too much

Type of outcome Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision
Contravention Unlawful request for information
Attribute Not relevant
Area Not relevant
Outcome Complaint upheld
Compensation $5,000
Year 2014

Summary: In December 2013 Woolworths advertised for a console operator in Beerwah, and applicants were required to apply online. The online application included mandatory fields of date of birth, gender, the uploading of documents proving the right to work. The complainant was offended at being asked for this information in a job application. Also, he did not have his birth certificate or a passport, and he would not be able to get them before the closing date.

The tribunal found that the questions asked in the application were discriminatory. The information at the application stage was not necessary for any lawful purpose, and the defence to unlawful requests for information did not apply. The tribunal also found that section 124 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 is not inconsistent with either the federal Migration Act 1958 or the Privacy Act 1988 . (Under the Migration Act it is in offence to employ an unlawful non-citizen, and the Privacy Act applies to the collection of personal information by companies such as Woolworths.)

By the time of the hearing Woolworths had changed the online application form so that date of birth and gender are now non-mandatory fields, and applicants now nominate the type of document they intend to provide at interview to satisfy the right to work in Australia.

There was no evidence of any economic loss by the complainant, and he was awarded $5,000 general damages for embarrassment, humiliation and a notional amount for loss of chance.

Willmott v Woolworths Ltd [2014] QCAT 601

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Conciliated outcomes

Prospective employee asked age at interview

Type of outcome Conciliation
Contravention Unlawful request for information
Attribute Not relevant
Area Not relevant
Outcome Apology
Policy change / change in practice
Compensation Nil
Year Not available

Summary: A man telephoned a prospective employer seeking a job which had been advertised. During an interview the man was asked his age. When he did not get the job he complained to the Commission that he was asked his age during the interview.

During an investigation it was discovered that the employer did not employ any person for the position as no person met the requirements for the job. The employer indicated that the question of age was one he asked all potential employees. It was noted that it was not necessary in this instance for the employer to know a potential employee's age.

In conciliation the employer agreed to provide an apology to the complainant for asking unnecessary information. He also undertook not to ask for unnecessary information during future job selection and to adopt non-discriminatory job selection procedures. The Commission assisted the employer in developing these procedures. The complainant stated he was satisfied with this as an outcome of making the complaint.

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