Sally has worked at Lynch’s Biscuit Factory Pty Limited (LBF) for 5 years as a biscuit inspector. Her job consists in inspecting and then tasting a certain number of biscuits per hour on a conveyor belt.
LBF manufactures and sells biscuits throughout Australia.
Sally has the following physical disabilities:
- She is a paraplegic and therefore confined to a wheelchair;
- She has a severe speech impediment which makes her very hard to understand
Despite the above, she performs her job very well and is regularly praised by management.
A few months ago. LBF employed an additional 10 staff (both male and female) who engaged in the following conduct towards Sally:
- Approximately once a week they would mechanically lift up the height of the conveyor belt on which Sally worked to such a level that she was unable to perform her job. She therefore had to ask her supervisor to lower the level of the conveyor belt. The new 10 members of staff would laugh when the level was being lowered
- When Sally spoke to any of the new staff about work-related matters, they would carefully listen to her but told her, respectfully, that they did not understand what she was saying. They did this very politely and not in any aggressive or rude manner. Some of the staff who had known Sally for many years had to translate what she was saying to the new staff.
Sally became very upset at the above conduct so she reported the incidents to Chris, her supervisor at LBF.
Chris did nothing about it.
The above behaviour has continued for almost 6 months.
In addition to the above, Sally and a number of employees of LBF (including Chris and the above new members of staff) were all friends on a well-known chat site at work. Chatting on this site is authorised and permitted by LBF to its employees. The site can only be accessed at the work premises of LBF by LBF employees. The employees of LBF on this site would, almost on a daily basis, post offensive and provocative remarks about Sally amongst themselves. Sally could read all these comments and the employees ensured that Sally could read the posts. She regularly told them to stop, as she was getting upset and anxious about the comments. However, this behaviour by the co-workers has not ceased and has continued on almost a daily basis for 6 months.
What can Sally do (if anything) about:
the behaviour of the new staff concerning (a) the conveyor belt and (b) their lack of understanding of what she was saying?
the employees on the chat site with respect to their behaviour?
You should consider whether Sally any has any rights against (i) the staff (including Chris); and (ii) LBF itself.
Use your knowledge of anti-discrimination law under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), federal and State anti-discrimination legislation and ILAC to structure your response.