At her performance review, Merindah tells her manager that she's tired of staff assuming that, because she is Aboriginal, she is responsible for dealing with all calls from the Aboriginal community, even when they are about issues outside of her role. She says she's finding it hard to meet her deadlines and is having to work unpaid hours because of the increased workload. Merindah's manager says that she just needs to prioritise her workload better and suggests she look into getting some counselling for stress.

Race discrimination isn’t always about overt comments and negative stereotyping – although incredibly that still happens.
Sometimes the unfavourable treatment occurs when people make assumptions about you based on your racial or ethnic background. In this case, those assumptions mean Merindah’s workload is being unfairly increased because her colleagues wrongly assume that Merindah should handle all enquiries from the Aboriginal community.
Unfortunately her manager isn't doing anything to address the cause of Merindah's complaint, and instead has suggested Merindah is at fault for not prioritising her workload.
As well as failing to acknowledge the unfavourable treatment that Merindah is receiving from her co-workers, her manager is compounding the discrimination by suggesting Merindah's work performance isn't up to scratch.

What does the law say about race discrimination?

Not only is it against the law to be discriminated against at work because of your race, it’s also against the law to be discriminated against because someone thinks you are of a particular race.

Race includes colour, descent, nationality, ancestry, ethnic background or a characteristic usually associated with a particular race.

What is vilification?

It is also against Victorian law to vilify a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

Vilification is behaviour that encourages others to hate, seriously disrespect or abuse a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

The legal definition is conduct that “incites hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule”. And it’s not on.


Download free resources about race discrimination and vilification from the Commission, or visit our webpage about race discrimination in the workplace for more information.

Contact us

In some cases there might be an exception. If you want to find out more about discrimination and vilification because of race Contact us