Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Remedies under the Equal Opportunity Act

Q. Can I only ask for financial compensation as a remedy for discrimination or sexual harassment?

A. No. When a person has been discriminated against, sexually harassed, or victimised, a broad range of remedies may be available to them under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (the Act).

Dispute resolution at the Commission is an informal, free and flexible process and parties can agree on all sorts of outcomes to help resolve the issue. Parties consider what is appropriate and possible in their circumstances. Agreements often include things like stopping the conduct of concern or reinstating the person, apologising, changing policies, undertaking training, and paying financial compensation.
When an application is made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to have a matter determined, VCAT can also make a number of different orders to remedy the situation which could include:

  • the person refraining from committing any further contravention of the Act
  • the person paying the applicant an amount the Tribunal thinks fit to compensate the applicant for loss, damage or injury suffered as a consequence of the breach of the Act
  • the person doing anything with a view to redressing any loss, damage or injury suffered by the applicant.

Since 1 August 2011, the ability of VCAT to make orders that someone refrain from committing any further contravention of the Act is no longer tied to contraventions in relation to the applicant. This should allow more systemic remedies to be sought (such as changes to discriminatory policies), even when the person is no longer in the employment relationship (or, for example, still living in the accommodation or having services provided).

There is also no cap on the compensation that VCAT can award under the Act. You can find out more about damages and other remedies under the Act in Chapter 18 of the Commission's case law handbook, Victorian Discrimination Law. This resource includes information about the different categories of damages and what VCAT will consider.

For more information download the Victorian Discrimination Law resource.