Discrimination Lawyers

Discrimination lawyers

Discrimination can occur against someone in relation to their work (known as workplace discrimination), education, accommodation or in other spaces or scenarios where a person has been treated unfairly due to a particular attribute or characteristic (excluding public spaces).

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What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when a person or group of people is treated less favourably than another person or group of people because of a certain attribute they have.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) (the Act) prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  • sex;
  • relationship status;
  • parental status;
  • breastfeeding;
  • age;
  • race;
  • impairment;
  • religious beliefs or activities;
  • political beliefs or activities;
  • trade union activity;
  • lawful sexual activity;
  • gender identity;
  • sexuality or sexual orientation;
  • family responsibilities; and/or
  • association with (or relation to) any person identified based on any of the above attributes.

The discrimination may be based on a past, current or presumed attribute — or a characteristic that a person with any of the attributes generally has or is often imputed to have.

Discrimination can be direct or indirect.

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Discrimination Lawyers

Damages and remedies

Damages will be awarded depending on the circumstances of each individual case. 

However, the remedies that may be available for a claim for discrimination include:

  • general damages;
  • aggravated damages;
  • exemplary damages;
  • mental injury and or loss;
  • physical injury and or loss; and
  • compensation for hurt, humiliation and distress.

Contact Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers today for a free and confidential initial consultation.

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Identifying discrimination

Discrimination can be direct or indirect

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when a person treats, or aims to treat, a person with an attribute less favourably than another person without the attribute, in circumstances that are the same or not materially different.

The person’s motive for discriminating is irrelevant, and it is not necessary to prove that the person considered the treatment to be less favourable.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when a person imposes (or aims to impose) a term:

  • with which a person who has the attribute does not or is not able to comply;
  • with which a higher proportion of people without the attribute comply or are able to comply; and
  • that is not reasonable.

Whether a term is reasonable depends on the circumstances of the case, including:

  • the consequences of failing to comply;
  • the cost of alternative terms; and
  • the financial situation of the person imposing (or aiming to impose) the term.

The person imposing, or aiming to impose, the term does not need to be aware that they are indirectly discriminating.

An example of indirect discrimination in employment is when an employer requires employees to wear a uniform, including a hat. The hat is required to be worn for appearance reasons and not for health or safety reasons. The requirement discriminates against people who must wear a headdress for cultural or religious reasons.

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Your rights

Dealing with discrimination complaints

Our team of experienced discrimination lawyers have extensive experience in defending and pursuing people who have been parties to discrimination.

All Australian legislation relating to discrimination is complaint-based, meaning that a person must complain to an administrative agency for their discrimination matter to be heard.

The person must show that they were discriminated against on the basis of a particular attribute or characteristic, and that they received less favourable treatment as a result of that attribute or characteristic.

Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC)

This QHRC, established under the Act, handles discrimination complaints in Queensland. Conciliation facilitated by the commission is the first step to try to resolve a discrimination dispute, and may result in the complaint being settled through, for example, an apology, change of policy or compensation.

Discrimination claims which cannot be resolved at the QHRC may progress to a hearing at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (employment-related complaints).

A claim for discrimination under the Act must be made within one year of the alleged discriminatory conduct. However, exceptions may apply and an application may be heard after a time limit has expired if the applicant has shown a good cause.

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Your team

Our discrimination disputes Team

Melany Dowse


Rebekka Hallberg

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Mitchell Caldwell

Special CounSEL

Melany Dowse

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Why us

Why choose Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers has extensive experience in discrimination matters of many kinds, including, but not limited to workplace discrimination matters. Whether you’re a complainant or a defendant, we can help you navigate the complaints process.

If you have been affected by discrimination, we are here to assist you anywhere in Australia from our base in Brisbane. Contact one of our experienced solicitors today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to engage a lawyer if I’m involved in a discrimination complaint?

Engaging a lawyer is not compulsory when dealing with discrimination matters but proper legal advice is vital to ensure you are protecting your rights, as well as maximising your chances of achieving the best possible outcome. The laws surrounding discrimination matters are complex and the complaint process can be difficult to navigate without the right advice and guidance.

Gibbs Wright lawyers can offer advice on all options to ensure an effective resolution and ensure you understand your legal obligations. Call us for no-obligation, confidential consultation.

What can an anti-discrimination lawyer do?

Whether the lawyer is acting for the complainant or the defendant, they can provide professional legal advice, as well as prepare and submit legal documents, and represent the party in conciliation conferences, applications and hearings. They can also help to have the claim dismissed, or alternatively to negotiate with the other party and reach a reasonable settlement.

Will I need to go to court for my discrimination complaint?

The complaint may need to be heard in a tribunal, depending on the type of discrimination alleged.

However, such proceedings can be costly, time consuming and stressful, so lawyers at Gibbs Wright will always attempt to negotiate a resolution before recommending your matter be heard in a tribunal.

What is the Gibbs Wright process?

At Gibbs Wright, we work closely with you to determine the best plan for your particular circumstances, considering your finances and your expectations.

We will walk you through the steps of the journey, which begins with a free initial discussion to assess the strength of your case and your legal options.

We will request key documents such as employment contracts and witness statements to assess this. If we determine we can help you, we will provide an estimate of fees, depending on the expected cost and complexity of the matter.

Where can we help you?

We are well versed in discrimination issues, and although we are based in Brisbane, our anti-discrimination team can help you no matter where you are in Australia. So, if you’re looking for a lawyer to handle your discrimination complaint, call us today.

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How we help

How we can help you?

If you are considering making a claim for discrimination, our discrimination lawyers can prepare and submit your legal documents, as well as represent you in conciliation conferences, applications and hearings.

If you are defending a discrimination claim, we can help draft your response and other legal documents, and represent you in conciliation conferences, applications and hearings. We aim to have the claim dismissed, or alternatively to negotiate with the other party and reach a reasonable settlement.

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