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Deborah’s story

Deborah describes being discriminated against when starting a new job, because she is a woman. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to her situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.

"When I asked him to explain his comments, he didn’t really have any basis for this concern except that I was a woman and that driving a bus was, in his eyes, ‘man’s work’. He insisted I’d have to stay on the lower training wage until I’d proven myself."

“When I saw a job ad for a local bus company, I thought I had the right skills for the role. I’d spent a few years working as a transport driver for the RAAF so I was pretty used to working with heavy vehicles. The interview went well and they offered me the job, but the boss did make some funny comments about how they don’t get many women applying for driving roles and how it’ll be a challenge for some of the guys.

When I got to the end of the training period, the boss told me he was concerned about whether I would be able to handle the job once I got out on the road. I’d passed all the activities in training, so I had no idea what he was talking about. When I asked him to explain his comments, he didn’t really have any basis for this concern except that I was a woman and that driving a bus was, in his eyes, ‘man’s work’. He insisted I’d have to stay on the lower training wage until I’d proven myself.

I’d never experienced such overt discrimination. I told the bus company’s HR person I would be making a formal complaint and I contacted the Commission. During a meeting with the HR representative and the regional manager, they apologised, committed to organise equal opportunity training and assured me I would be paid the right wage.”

The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real complaints received by the Commission, but all names and other identifying details have been changed.

How does the law apply to Deborah’s situation?

In Victoria, it’s against the law for you to be discriminated against or bullied because of your sex, including when you are at work.

The Equal Opportunity Act applies to employers of all sizes and covers all types of workers, including full-time, part-time and casual employees, agents and contract workers, and trainees and apprentices. Sex discrimination is against the law in all stages of employment, including recruitment, returning to work after injury or illness, dismissal and retrenchment.

You can make a complaint

Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:

If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you.

Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.

We can also give you information about your rights.

More information

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