11/03/2018 - Race Discrimination at work: What can I do?

endracediscriminationRacist behavior towards you, conducted by anybody at your place of work, is against the law. Our Union takes a strong position against any form of discrimination against its members and will take-up your concerns.

Racial discrimination can take many different forms. It might be direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, racial harassment, or victimisation.

Racist behaviour might include:

  • being shouted at;
  • being called racist names;
  • racial 'jokes' and ‘banter’, including offensive tweets, text messages, social media entries and screen savers;
  • being denied certain benefits;
  • being overlooked for promotion and/or training; or
  • being bullied.

Our Union expects your employer to take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of racial discrimination and harassment at work.

We also expect your employer to take an equally firm 'zero tolerance' approach to all abuse by third parties, such as customers, suppliers, patients or clients.

Discrimination law is complex, so make sure you seek sound advice from our Union at an early stage before taking any action. There are also steps you can take which will help our Union help you.

1. Keep a diary of any incidents of discrimination or harassment. Record the date, approximate time, location, parties involved, witnesses, and details of the improper conduct or speech.

Example: A diary entry could contain information such as, "On March 10, 2018, I was standing by the copy machine on the 4th floor when Charles Jefferson (supervisor) said 'I hope you realize that I won't have to put up with an old goat like you for much longer, because as soon as you turn sixty I'm going to fire you.' Chris Barrett and Andy Walker (coworkers) were there at the time and heard her say it."

2. Keep any objects or pictures which were posted, left for you, or given to you in the workplace that you believe were discriminatory or harassing.

Example: You are of West Indian descent, and you arrive at your desk one morning to find a picture of a golliwog taped to your chair. Keep the picture. Although you will certainly find it reprehensible and upsetting, try to control your urge to tear it up or throw it away. Having the actual offensive item to help prove your case is much easier than having to try to describe what it looked like, and having to hope that your version will be believed. It will help us to help you if you do this.

3. Review your company's anti-discrimination policy. The fact that your employer may have put it in writing, and acknowledged that it will not act in discriminatory ways may serve to benefit your position. If you have a copy of the policy in a handbook or other handout, retain a copy of it. If you don't have a copy seek to (discreetly) obtain one.

If you ever find yourself the victim of any form of discrimination please remember that you are not isolated and you are not alone. The Union stands behind you. We fight all forms of discrimination and have taken cases forwarded on political/belief discrimination, race discrimination and sexual harassment (to list a few). We have also defended members against unwarranted claims of discrimination made against them. Whatever problem you face at work, remember, together we are strong.