Discrimination in the workplace can occur in direct and indirect ways. Direct discrimination occurs when a person with an attribute is treated less favourably than another person without the attribute in the same or similar circumstances. A person's motive for discriminating is irrelevant. The attribute may only be one of the reasons for the treatment.

An example of direct discrimination is:

A and B apply for a job. They are both Australian, but A is Anglo Saxon and B is Asian. The employer decides to give the job to A because "Asians can never speak English properly".

Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition, requirement or practice is imposed or is proposed to be imposed and a person with an attribute does not, or is not able to comply, in circumstances where a higher proportion of people without the attribute can or are able to comply. The condition, requirement or practice is only unlawful if it is not reasonable in the circumstances.

An example of indirect discrimination is:

An employer's requirement for a particular level of education, before employing someone, may discriminate against particular groups or individuals, if the employer cannot show that the requirement is reasonable in the circumstances. The requirement may discriminate against, for example, older people who do not have the level of education, but have significant life experience and skills.

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