Anxiety disorders are common mental illnesses and can be covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.

The Act makes it against the law to discriminate against a person because of his or her disability. There are some limited exceptions and exemptions.

Example: It could be discrimination to refuse to offer a person a job if you have learned from a referee that they have a stress-related illness.

It is not unlawful to discriminate against an employee on the basis of his or her disability if the person cannot perform the inherent requirements of a job after reasonable adjustments have been made.

Employers also have obligations to employees with disabilities, including an anxiety disorder or stress-related illness, under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and occupational health and safety legislation. Privacy legislation applies to disclosures about an employee’s personal information.

Example: An employee disclosed to their employer that they had been diagnosed with anxiety. After discussing what would work best for them both, they agreed that the worker could change responsibilities to provide administrative duties rather than telephone contact with customers.