Australian Court Finds it is Discrimination to Ask Age and Gender Questions on Job Application Forms

Julie Mittel
14 Dec
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In an important ruling for recruiters and HR professionals, a Queensland court has ruled that Woolworths discriminated against a job applicant by making age and gender questions mandatory on their job application form.

Job applicant, Steven Wilmott, saw a job advertisement by Woolworths on their careers page. Wilmott did not complete the application because he was offended with Woolworths’ insistence on the provision of the above information. He then lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland.

In short, QCAT senior member Richard Oliover stated that “subject to a consideration of the respondent’s defence and the implications of the Migration Act, I find that the questions asked in the application are discriminatory.” He went on to conclude: “I am satisfied that Woolworths’ conduct in requiring an applicant to provide a date of birth and gender on the online application form, is a contravention of s 9 of the Anti-Discrimination Act. In addition, I have come to the conclusion that the mandatory requirement to upload proof of work documents, containing private information is also a contravention of the Act.”

Woolworths was ordered to pay Wilmott $5000 for the embarrassment, humiliation and some notional amount for the loss of a chance that he might have been successful in his application.

This is an important finding in Australia and one that I think all recruiters and HR professionals need to read carefully. The practice of asking age and gender questions on application forms is reasonably wide spread in the corporate sector and therefore a potential issue for a number of other employers.

You can check out the full details here.

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