Anti-Discrimination NSW

Customer made offensive comments

Conciliation: Homosexual discrimination in employment

Published: 23 October 2017

A homosexual man worked as a manager for a financial institution, and a customer of the institution made offensive comments to one of the staff about the manager's sexuality. After he was told about the comments by the staff member, the manager made a complaint using the organisation's internal grievance process about the customer.

The man was not satisfied with how his internal complaint was dealt with and made a complaint of homosexual discrimination to the Board. He said that he was told the employer would write to the customer but he was shown no evidence that this had occurred. Also his supervisor seemed unsure of the correct procedure to follow and he ended up having to discuss the matter a number of times with different people, which was distressing and embarrassing for him.

The employer said they had a discrimination, harassment and bullying policy and a procedure for handling grievances. They denied that they had handled the internal complaint inappropriately and said that they had shown support to the complainant at all times and told him that the letter had been sent. However, the process of working out the best approach to dealing with the complaint had taken several months.


The complaint was resolved at conciliation when the employer agreed to provide the complainant with a copy of the letter to the customer, to give him a written apology for not dealing with the internal complaint in a more timely manner, to re-educate staff about procedures in relation to aggressive customers, and to consult the complainant about this process

What does the law say about homosexual discrimination?

It is generally against the law in NSW to treat you unfairly or harass you because:

  • you are gay or lesbian;
  • someone thinks you are gay or lesbian; or
  • because you have a relative, friend, associate or work colleague who is gay or lesbian, or someone thinks they are gay or lesbian.

More information on Homosexual discrimination​​

​​​Back to October 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​​​​​

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