Jakub talks about being discriminated against at work because he is gay. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to his situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"Me being gay has never really bothered anyone else, but this guy had a real problem with it. He made a point of using ‘gay’ and ‘homo’ as an insult when I was around and couldn’t help making snide remarks about gay people and putting on a fake lisp."
“Most of the staff at the restaurant were great to work with, but there was this one guy who was pretty awful. Me being gay has never really bothered anyone else, but this guy had a real problem with it. He made a point of using ‘gay’ and ‘homo’ as an insult when I was around and couldn’t help making snide remarks about gay people and putting on a fake lisp. Sometimes he’d ask me intrusive questions about my social life or who I was dating; other times he’d bail me up and talk about his own sex life in way too much detail. It made me so uncomfortable, and I’m sure he knew that.
Eventually I’d had enough of it and I made a formal complaint to my manager. I was pretty disappointed with how my manager reacted – it felt like she wanted to sweep it under the carpet. She dismissed it as a ‘difference of opinion’, a ‘conflict between two co-workers’. This was so upsetting – what that guy said to me was completely unacceptable, especially in a workplace. To make it worse, everyone found out about my complaint and then they started to freeze me out – people that used to be quite friendly stopped talking to me. It felt like I wasn’t part of the team anymore.
Because I was unhappy with how it had been handled, I made a complaint to the Commission. They talked to my manager and she agreed to participate in a conciliation. I found it a bit confronting to talk about what I’d experienced, but I think it gave her a better idea of what I’d been through and how it made me feel. In the end, they paid me some compensation and agreed to conduct equal opportunity training for all the staff at the restaurant.”
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 Jakub’s situation?
Under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, it’s against the law to harass or discriminate against someone because of their gender identity, lawful sexual activity or sexual orientation. This means Jakub’s co-workers and manager can’t treat him unfairly just because he’s gay.
The Equal Opportunity Act applies in many areas of public life, including employment. It also covers provision of goods and services, education and accommodation.
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.
"I couldn’t believe he said it; it made me feel so uncomfortable, like he was mocking my age. It also made me feel like the work I did and the contribution I made to our office wasn’t valued at all."