Joking about sex at work no laughing matter

QUEENSLAND Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks has warned what might have been a "joke" 20 years ago could easily be seen as sexual harassment or discrimination today.

"It is very complex. Humour is an important and essential part of our humanity," Mr Cocks said.

"The law clearly says we need to see it from a 'reasonable person test'. But jokes that are racist, sexist or religiously offensive told in public places or workplaces are usually not acceptable and a person could end up with a complaint against them.

"People could lose their job and there could be some financial reparation ordered against them."

Figures supplied by the Commission showed there were 617 complaints "accepted" by the Commission in the last financial year.

The vast majority (25.8% or 159) were complaints concerning "impairment", followed by race (11.3% or 70) and then sex (9.2% or 57).

However, there was also one successful discrimination complaint concerning breastfeeding and 17 complaints concerning "parental status" and one other concerning "political belief and activity".

Most of the complaints, (63.8% or 239), were complaints arising from work.

Mr Cocks said the number of complaints accepted by the Commission did not appear to be increasing.

He said it was important for people to remember it was up to the "receiver to judge, not the perpetuator" as to whether something was offensive.

State-wide accepted complaints:

Age discrimination:

30 complaints, 4.9%.

Breastfeeding:

1 complaint, 0.2%.

Family Responsibility: 43 complaints, 7%.

Impairment:

159 complaints, 25.8%.

Sexual harassment:

57 complaints, 9.2%.


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