Concerns about discrimination

Being discriminated against at work because you have cancer is against the law under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Fair Work Act 2009, and the relevant state and territory legislation.

Discrimination may occur in different ways:

Direct discrimination – This means you are treated less favourably because of your illness. For example, an employer denies you a promotion, demotes you to a lower paid job, refuses to hire you or sacks you for a reason related to your cancer diagnosis.

Indirect discrimination – This is when a policy, rule or practice that seems fair actually disadvantages you because you have a disability. For example, a requirement for staff to stand while serving customers might indirectly discriminate against you if the cancer prevents you from standing comfortably. It might be possible for the employer to adjust this rule.

Australian law requires an employer to take reasonable steps to accommodate the effects of an employee’s illness and help you perform your job. This may include making minor changes to your work duties, reducing your working hours or providing you with additional equipment.

For more information on disability discrimination, see humanrights.gov.au.


This information was last reviewed in January 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends

SHARE
TOP BACK TO TOP