It is generally against the law in NSW to treat you unfairly or harass you because of an infectious disease, for example tuberculosis or hepatitis A, B or C. This also applies if you are HIV positive or have AIDS.
It is against the law to discriminate against you or harass you if any of the following are the case:
Indirect infectious diseases discrimination is also against the law. This occurs when there is a rule or requirement that disadvantages people who have an infectious disease more than people who don't have an infectious disease - unless it can be shown that the rule or requirement is 'reasonable in all the circumstances'.
For example, a requirement for all staff to take breaks at a particular time might indirectly discriminate against a person who needs to take medication at other times of the day. It may be quite possible to organise that person's work so they could take their breaks when they need to.
Discrimination is against the law in the following areas:
If you can do the essential parts of your job, employers must also provide any special facilities you need to do your job - unless it would cause them 'unjustifiable hardship' to do so. For example, you might need to have your breaks at particular times to take medication as previously, or work partly from home.
Similar rules apply to educational institutions, accommodation providers and registered clubs. In deciding whether providing you with what you need would cause unjustifiable hardship, the organisation involved must consider the benefits of the proposed facilities to their other staff and clients, as well as to you.
More information on unjustifiable hardship
If an employer, workmate or service, accommodation or education provider tells anyone else about your infectious disease when you haven't said they can, this could lead to discrimination that is against the law. It may also be against privacy laws. For more information on privacy laws contact Privacy NSW on (02) 9229 8585, or refer to Information and Privacy Commission website.
However, some infectious diseases are classified as 'notifiable'. This means that a health care practitioner may have to notify a Public Health Unit about your infectious disease. For more information, contact your local Public Health Unit.
An employer or service provider is allowed to discriminate against you if another law tells them that they must. For example:
However, there are only rare occasions when health and safety obligations mean that someone can discriminate against you because you have an infectious disease. This means that it is generally against the law to:
HIV/AIDS vilification is also against the anti-discrimination law. Vilification is defined as any public act that could encourage hatred, serious contempt, or severe ridicule towards people who have HIV/AIDS.
Public acts could include remarks in a newspaper or journal, in other publications, on radio or television or on the internet, including social networking sites. They could also include graffiti, posters, verbal abuse, speeches or statements, gestures and badges or clothing with slogans on them, as long as these are displayed, made or worn in public. The vilification law does not cover acts that are not public, for example abuse over a back fence that no-one else can hear.
If the vilification involves a threat of physical harm or inciting others to threaten physical harm, it may be referred to the Attorney General and prosecuted as a crime of serious vilification. You generally have 12 months after the events occurred to lodge a discrimination complaint, but in this case the prosecution must commence within
six months from the date when the vilification occurred.
More information on vilification and serious vilification
If you are HIV positive or have AIDS and someone treats you unfairly or harasses you because you are homosexual or they think you are homosexual, this could be against the law. It could also be against the law if you are treated unfairly or harassed at work because you are caring for or supporting a child or family member with an infectious disease.
More about homosexual discrimination
More about carer's responsibilities discrimination