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Types of discrimination - Workplace

In Victoria it is against the law to discriminate against an employee because of a personal characteristic that they have, or that someone assumes they have.

Employees are protected from discrimination at all stages of employment including recruitment, workplace terms and conditions and dismissal

The personal characteristics protected by the law include:


parental and carer status


employment activity

gender identity, lawful sexual activity and sexual orientation

industrial activity

marital status

physical features

political belief or activity

pregnancy and breastfeeding


religious belief or activity


expunged homosexual conviction

personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics. 

Sexual harassment is also against the law.

Are there any exceptions?

While the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 aims to ensure fair employment opportunities for all people, it does include some general exceptions. This means that an employer may be allowed to discriminate in particular circumstances.


Employers may be vicariously liable for their employees’ acts of discrimination or sexual harassment. Employers can also be directly liable. Find out more about who is liable for discrimination and harassment

Employers also have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

Complaints of discrimination made to the Commission are resolved through a process called conciliation. Find out more about our process for resolving complaints

Federal laws

Federal anti-discrimination laws also apply to Victorian employers, and protect people against sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, sex, marital status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, sexual preference, medical record, criminal record, trade union activity, political opinion, social origin, religion, and nationality or ethnic origin.