From 1 March 2017 Queensland work-related discrimination matters will be heard by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) [1], following recent amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) (ADA).

While the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) will continue to deal with work-related complaints in the first instance (usually by a conciliation conference), if a matter is unable to be resolved in the ADCQ, the applicant will be able to have the matter referred to the QIRC for hearing, rather than the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) as was previously the case.

The QIRC will also take the functions of:

  • hearing work-related discrimination exemption applications;
  • providing opinions about the application of the ADA for work-related matters; and
  • other procedural type matters for work-related complaints.

Similar to the arrangements at QCAT, parties will still require permission to be represented by a solicitor at the QIRC. In deciding applications for representation, the QIRC is required to focus on the efficiency and complexity of the matter as well as fairness between the parties. [2]

It continues to be presumed that each party will bear their own costs. However, on application, the QIRC will award costs against a party in limited circumstances where the interests of justice require it.

The functions of the ADAQ and QCAT in relation to non-work related matters remain unaffected by the changes, however, if a matter contains work-related and a non-work related components, it will be referred to the QIRC. It should also be noted that this change has not affected the ability of applicants to make complaints under federal anti-discrimination laws instead of the ADA. [3]

Discrimination is a complex area of law. For further information or advice, please contact HopgoodGanim Lawyers’ Industrial and Employment Law team.

[1] Work-related matters which commenced prior to the 1 March 2017 will continue to be heard through QCAT under the transitional provisions.

[2] The representation arrangements were modelled on those applicable in the Fair Work Commission.

[3] Initially complaints under the federal system are dealt with by the Australian Human Rights Commission, then the Federal Court/Federal Circuit Court if unresolved.