SAT and the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity are independent of each other.
Complaints of unlawful discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 should be lodged with the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity.
The Commissioner may refer matters to SAT where the Commissioner:
- has been unable to resolve the complaint by conciliation and the Commissioner is of the opinion that the complaint should be referred to SAT; or
- has been asked to do so after a complaint has been dismissed.
SAT enquires into every matter the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity refers to it.
- The Commissioner will submit a report on the matter to SAT.
- Matters may be resolved by mediation or by hearing.
SAT must hold an inquiry into complaints referred to it by the Commissioner, unless the complainant does not wish for the inquiry to be held, and ultimately SAT may dismiss the complaint or find the complaint substantiated, and:
- award damages not exceeding $40,000;
- make an order prohibiting the respondent from continuing or repeating the unlawful conduct;
- order the respondent to redress any loss or damage;
- make a declaration that an agreement made in contravention of the Act is void; or
- decline to take any further action in the matter.
SAT has power under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to direct that evidence, documents or information before the Tribunal is not to be published in some circumstances.
SAT can grant exemptions from the operation of specified part of the Equal Opportunity Act 1984.
Detailed investigation of a complaint may take some time and the complainant’s situation, status or rights, or the respondent’s situation, status or rights might need to be protected during the investigation.
For example, an eviction order against a complainant in relation to a tenancy matter might need to be stopped whilst a complaint is being investigated; or a threatened termination of employment might need to be stopped whilst an investigation is being carried out.
In such circumstances, an application for an Interim Order can be made and SAT may consider ordering the respondent not to evict the tenant or not to terminate the employee until the investigation of the complaint has been carried out and a determination of the matter is made.
An interim order application can only be lodged by a person whose complaint has been accepted by the Commissioner or by the Commissioner.
Last updated: 21 August 2023
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