Domestic Violence Victims at Work: A Role for Anti-Discrimination Law?

Australian Journal of Labour Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 209-236, 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/46

Posted: 14 Jul 2012 Last revised: 1 Apr 2015

Belinda Smith

The University of Sydney Law School

Tashina Orchiston

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: July 13, 2012

Abstract

For victims of domestic violence it is increasingly recognised that financial security is critical to their safety and ability to escape a violent relationship. The majority of victims of domestic violence are engaged in paid work, but are often reluctant to disclose their status. This reluctance can persist even when the worker needs some workplace flexibility in order to navigate the criminal justice system, make housing and/or financial arrangements or access support services. Two possible reasons for non-disclosure are: a fear that the widespread negative attitudes about victims of domestic violence will impair relationships with their colleagues and managers; and a belief that they have no rights to workplace flexibility or adjustments to deal with their circumstances. In this paper we explore whether federal anti-discrimination laws could be used to address these twin concerns and promote normative and behavioural change. By recognising ‘victims of domestic violence’ as a vulnerable group warranting protection against discrimination in the workplace, anti-discrimination laws could empower these workers to disclose their status and even expect reasonable adjustments to enable them to maintain their employment.

Keywords: domestic violence, family violence, anti-discrimination law, Australia, work, workplace, employment, consolidation, victims, women, law reform

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K31

Suggested Citation

Smith, Belinda and Orchiston, Tashina, Domestic Violence Victims at Work: A Role for Anti-Discrimination Law? (July 13, 2012). Australian Journal of Labour Law, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 209-236, 2012; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/46. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2105150

Belinda M. Smith (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Tashina Orchiston

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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