The Federation Press

Discrimination Law and Practice


This is the 4th edition of the seminal textbook on the practical application of Australian discrimination law. Its concise account brings clarity with depth and is suitable for all involved in this branch of the law – lawyers, business people, human resources and industrial relations staff, advocates and students.

Discrimination Law and Practice has been completely updated and examines important recent cases in key areas of discrimination law and particularly in all aspects of employment and harassment, the provision of goods and services and education.

The phenomenon of bullying, and particularly cyber-bullying in work-related environments, is an emerging challenge in this area and a new chapter has been devoted to this issue.

Specific attention is given to the impact on discrimination law on the Fair Work Act and additional remedies for discrimination including adverse action claims. Further, this edition assists the reader in deciding the best form of action to take and in which jurisdiction.

This edition sets out the procedures for lodging discrimination complaints, attending conciliation conferences and the court processes. It examines possible remedies ordered by the courts where discrimination is established. It provides invaluable insight into relevant court procedure and particular the new Federal Court Rules.

A selection of reviews of the previous editions (see below) clearly outline the publications immeasurable value, concise approach and instructive nature.


Reviews of previous editions: Discrimination Law and Practice is an easily digested overview for the newcomer to discrimination law. It is aimed not only at practitioners but at organisations that may seek to ensure compliance. Coverage of the socio-economic and political background to the legal developments allows a further level of depth. The comprehensive use of cases provides the analysis and direction necessary for an understanding of the law by practitioners. ...A book previously described as “arguably the best available starting point for an understanding of the basic concepts”, this third edition is just that. It recognises the changing nature of discrimination law, presents it in a manner that is interesting and is a well-weighted guide for general purposes. - Hearsay, The Journal of the Queensland Bar Association, Issue 33, February 2009

...this book provides an excellent introduction to the law of discrimination in Australia. Ronalds has created an easily referable text and the comprehensive discussion including statutory reforms, extracts of parliamentary debates, judicial criticisms and interpretations juxtaposed against informal discussions recommend it to the student and the practitioner alike... The format is easy to digest and includes useful further reading lists at the end of each chapter so that those whoe need greater detail can seek it. - Jennifer O’Grady, (2008) 28 Qld Lawyer 304

This is a useful and informative text on discrimination law in Australia. It works through substantive and procedural components of state and commonwealth discrimination law in a sensible and logical sequence, covering the key legislation and cases. ... this book is a necessary inclusion on the shelf of any practitioner with an interest in discrimination law. - Emrys Nekvapil, Law Institute Journal of Victoria, August 2008

This publication is of immeasurable value. It is written with respect to State and Commonwealth legislation and captures something which is often missing from text books. It manages to identify very fundamental concepts and treat them in such a way as to not be patronising to those who know them, but at the same time be instructive to those who don’t. In the almost seven years since the first edition was published, the law has developed a great deal, so that an easy way of becoming more up to date, is to take the time to absorb its contents . The style of the book is to identify and develop the concepts of discrimination on the grounds of sex, age, disability, race, religious belief etc and then to take the reader through areas such as employment, where the cases illustrate the application of the law to various factual instances. It considers racial vilification, victimisation and devotes a chapter to fostering an understanding of how and in what circumstances discrimination may be exempted from the various Acts. To the uninitiated, it gives an overview of the conduct of proceedings and, I think, of greatest importance, explains the remedies available. I say this is of greatest importance because I have seen a number of instances where practitioners have applied for remedies which are simply not available to their client under the particular legislation. It is quite embarrassing to have to explain to another practitioner (hopefully in the absence of their client), that there is no power to give them the remedy they are seeking. It is even more difficult when they don’t accept this and have to be told by the Court that there is no power to make the Order sought. Hopefully, by use of this very fine book, such events will no longer occur. This is an excellent source of learning and is highly recommended both for students and experienced practitioners. - BJM, Tasmanian Law Society newsletter, August 2004

Arguably the best available starting point for an understanding of the basic concepts of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination law. It will serve different purposes for legal practitioners, human resource professionals and students, but will be useful for all three groups. - Ryan Carthew & Simon Adams, Public Administration Today, Sept-Nov 2004

The first edition was widely regared as the best and most practical guide to the complex areas of discrimination law ... The second edition builds on and expands the framework established in the earlier edition ... the laws of direct and indirect discrimination are comprehensively and clearly explained. ... The book represents a clear guide through the various twists and turns of discrimination law and practice. Of great assistance to practitioners in the area (such as myself) or other interested parties are the individual chapters dedicated to complaint-handling processes, conducting a hearing and remedies obtained and obtainable by complainants ... the chapters dealing with the processes of complaint and litigation are essential reading material for any practitioner advising a client, or any party interested in entering the fray. ... It will be no surprise that this excellent book should make its way onto compulsory reading lists at universities as well as into the libraries of practitioners. - Athena Scott, Journal of Industrial Relations, Dec 2004

One particularly useful section for people management professionals [in this revised edition] is a new chapter which examines the remedies obtained by people who pursue claims through the courts and the range and type of orders usually made. Ronalds and Pepper also include a comprehensive section on industrial laws. ... Discrimination Law and Practice is a legal text and, as such, makes for pretty dry reading. But its concise approach and clear layout makes it easy to browse and locate relevant interest areas. - Human Resources magazine, 19 May 2004

[This book] is compact and instructive and provides a comprehensive coverage of the main issues. ... It explains in clear terms the development and definition of discrimination law and canvasses the main grounds of discrimination in Australia ... Throughout the book emphasis is given to the practical aspects of dealing with discrinination. Practical coverage is given to issues affectng liability, defences and remedies. The authors also explain the complaint-handling process and how a hearing is conducted. ... The appendices ... provide an excellent comparison of the legislative features in all nine Australian jurisdictions ... [T]his is a useful book and highly recommended to students, practitioners and the general reader ... - Ethos (Law Society of the ACT) Vol 192, March 2004

This book sets out the gamut of discrimination which can attract legal redress. It is not only a reference book for lawyers and students of the law but, perhaps even more importantly, it is of value to the lay reader who goes into bat for a colleague, an asylum seeker or even for him or herself. It is clearly set out with chapters on definitions of discrimination; grounds for complaint; as well as a background to the subject. More specifically, it examines discrimination with examples and legal references in such areas as employment, education, harassment, vilification and racial hatred; and the vexed area of victimisation. The authors provide practical guidance to the sort of legal obstacle courses involved, covering liability, vicarious liability and defences; general exemptions; complaint handling processes; how a hearing is conducted (and how to conduct a hearing). There are chapters, too, on remedies and industrial laws . Appendices cover grounds of unlawful discrimination; areas of unlawful discrimination; exceptions to coverage; conciliation and inquiry powers; and contact points. - Unity No 374, 19 March 2004

... indispensable ... Topic by topic the author examines the law clearly and concisely, and ... demonstrates the way it operates by reference to numerous practical examples, leading decided and unreported cases, and current usage. - Victorian Bar News

The chapters on complaint handling processes and inquiry proceedings demystify the bodies which actually handle and resolve discrimination complaints. They provide an excellent discussion of the procedures which a complaint goes through, the rights of complainants and how to go about matters like making changes, appealing, or joining parties. ... an excellent guide to discrimination law. It is well researched, skilfully compiled and easy to follow. I strongly recommend it to lawyers and non-lawyers alike. - Law Society Journal (NSW)

Table of Contents

Background and current position
Grounds or attributes of discrimination
Definitions of discrimination
Employment discrimination
Education discrimination
Vilification and racial hatred
Other areas of discrimination
Victimisation and other unlawful acts and offences
Liability, vicarious liability and defences
General exemptions
Complaint-handling processes
Conducting a hearing
Industrial laws

A: Grounds of unlawful discrimination
B: Areas of unlawful discrimination
C: Exceptions to coverage
D: Conciliation and inquiry powers
E: Contact points

Table of Cases/ Table of Statutes/ Index

Of interest...