Jie talks about mental health and disability discrimination at work. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to her situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"I submitted a request for a leave of absence so I could get my anxiety back under control, but my employer refused. They said it was too busy for me to be away and that I’d have to wait until a quieter time."
“I’ve had depression and anxiety from time to time since I was a teen, but I can usually manage it pretty well. Recently, I had to take three weeks off work to manage my stress. After the three weeks, I felt like I was ready to come back to work – but as soon as I got into the office, my anxiety flared up.
I submitted a request for a leave of absence so I could get my anxiety back under control, but my employer refused. They said it was too busy for me to be away and that I’d have to wait until a quieter time. I felt like their response didn’t really consider my wellbeing or the severity of my anxiety – it’s not like I was asking for time off for a holiday; I needed time to look after myself.
I felt stuck, so I contacted the Commission to find out if this was discrimination because of my mental health. I was hoping that they would be able to help get me compensation. They organised a meeting with my employer who agreed to give me compensation and grant my request for leave.”
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 Jie’s situation?
Under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, it’s against the law to harass or discriminate against someone because they have a disability. This means Jie’s co-workers and manager can’t treat her unfairly just because she has anxiety or feels stressed.
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.
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