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The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) defines discrimination as the less favourable treatment of a person or group due to their background or certain personal characteristics. This can be both direct or indirect, direct by being the specific unfavourable treatment of someone and indirect being an action which inadvertently disadvantages someone. Discrimination can occur on the basis of someone’s race, health, gender, sexuality, religion, age or relationship status. There are laws in Australia which prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, education, the use of public services, and buying property – as well as in other areas.
Legislation governing discrimination is found in both the State and Federal jurisdictions. The following laws apply Australia-wide:
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Australian states have also implemented their own anti-discrimination legislation. They are as follows:
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
- Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT)
- Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1996 (NT)
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (QLD)
- Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA)
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas)
- Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
What is a Discrimination Lawyer?
Discrimination lawyers assist people who have faced discrimination on the basis of age, race, religion, gender or disability in areas of public life, such as employment, education, provision of goods, access to premises, etc. Mainly discrimination occurs when a person is not treated fairly or less favourably, and this is sometimes obvious when compared to others. In a workplace context this could involve:
- Dismissing an employee because of a characteristic or group the employee belongs to
- Denying an employee opportunities such as promotions
- Excluding certain employees during recruitment
- Paying employees in the same position different salaries
- Treating an employee less favourably than other employees
Discrimination lawyers are experts that should be consulted if a person decides to make a complaint. Discrimination Lawyers can help you negotiate and commence legal action if you have been discriminated against. They will ensure that any dispute is resolved professionally and that your rights under the law are enforced.
Why do I need a Discrimination Lawyer?
Discrimination lawyers are experts who will help provide legal advice and appropriate solutions if you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace or elsewhere. Discrimination lawyers will not only advise you on discrimination issues but can also represent you in legal proceedings and alternative processes such as conciliation, mediation, and negotiation. A discrimination lawyer is also a point of contact for employers.
Discrimination lawyers are also useful for employers who wish to implement change in the workplace. Many workplaces now have a discrimination policy which sets out how workplaces will handle instances of discrimination in the workplace, and how they will combat discrimination in the workplace.
What will a Discrimination Lawyer provide?
A discrimination lawyer will provide effective solutions that are specifically catered to your situation. While keeping your best interests in mind, discrimination lawyers will instruct and guide you on what next steps you should take regardless of whether you are an employee, employer, or a person experiencing discrimination. A discrimination lawyer will also draft legal documents and act for you in any negotiations or legal proceedings.
How much will a Discrimination Lawyer charge?
Discrimination lawyers, and lawyers in general, charge either a fixed amount or an hourly rate. Also, fees may be calculated based on the solicitor’s expertise, seniority, location and whether the work is urgent.
Legal costs can be unpredictable and expensive. Our aim at LawPath is to provide you with legal options that are fast, affordable and transparent. By providing you with fixed priced quotes this means you are always aware of the costs and make the best decision for your business when a dispute arises.
Hourly rates and Court fees
The cost of a Discrimination Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.
What can a Discrimination Lawyer legally charge?
Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.
Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.
What if I don’t agree with the costs?
You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.