Noura talks about sex discrimination at work and sexual harassment. We explain how the Equal Opportunity Act relates to her situation, and how the Commission can help people who have a similar experience.
"The boss told me that he had only hired me because he thought I was good looking. It came as a real surprise because, up until then, he had seemed to genuinely value my work."
“I’d been working for a real estate office near my home for a year or so, when the boss told me that he had only hired me because he thought I was good looking. It came as a real surprise because, up until then, he’d seemed to genuinely value my work and I was treated well even though I was the only woman in the office. I asked him if he was serious and he said I could be easily replaced. That sounded like a threat, which made me feel very uncomfortable. But I liked the work and it was convenient for me, so I ignored it and tried to get on with my job.
Later that week, he called me into his office and asked me to go out for drink with him, so he could get to know me better. Alarm bells went off again and I told him that I couldn’t make it. He glared at me and said, ‘No problem, but your time’s up. Your job just expired.’ I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to say. I just packed up my stuff and left.
Later, I told my sister about it and she found the number for the Commission. They helped me to understand the law, and it seemed pretty clear that the way my boss had treated me was not OK. I decided to make a formal complaint, so the Commission organised a meeting at their office with my old boss. He admitted that he had said those things, but he claimed it was all a joke and that there just wasn’t a need for my role at the office. In the end, I tried to make him understand how the way he’d treated me had made me feel. He apologised and offered me my job back. I accepted the apology, but I decided I’d rather look for a new job.”
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 Noura’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.
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