Anti-discrimination legislation in Queensland, Victoria, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory prohibit asking a person, either orally or in writing, to supply information on which unlawful discrimination might be based.

A recent decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) demonstrates the impact these prohibitions have on an employer’s ability to request information of potential job applicants during the recruitment process.

Willmott v Woolworths Ltd [2014] QCAT 601

Woolworths advertised a position for a console operator at its petrol outlet at Beerwah in Queensland.  Applicants were able to apply using Woolworths’ online application system, in which they were required to answer mandatory questions about their gender and date of birth, as well as being required to provide documentary proof of the applicant’s ability to work, in order to submit the application.

Mr Willmott was a potential applicant who lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland arguing (among other things) that Woolworths’ employment application process breached section 124(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) (the AD Act), because it requested information regarding age, gender and right to work that might be used as the basis of unlawful discrimination.