QLD Employer Interviewing about Relationship Status - Discrimination?

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3 February 2015
Recently two of my co-workers informed me that a Manager and Human Resources (HR) professional at work independently called each of them in for a meeting and proceeded to question them about my relationship status and, in particular, if I was having an affair with a co-worker. I am concerned that this Manager used her position as both the direct Manager of the two co-workers interviewed and a HR professional to defame myself and my co-accused and to collect personal information that my employer is not legally allowed to ask me. My co-accused and I were not having an affair and do not work in any proximity to each other in which a relationship would have affected our employer (i.e. a power relationship). We work independently in different departments and have little contact in the workplace.

I am confused as to whether this action constitutes discrimination, a breach of privacy, defamation or some other legal issue and where best to direct the complaint? I am in Queensland.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Molly_1

Your employer (including HR department and manager) is allowed to conduct internal investigations into the relationships of its employees if there is a policy against work-place relationships. You cannot claim discrimination/privacy every time a company conducts internal investigations into its employees about matters that may affect the business (and which may possibly offend you).

Do they have a policy against work-place relationships?

I do not believe you have a claim in discrimination or privacy based on what you have revealed above.

However, if you are unhappy with this conclusion, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman and enquire about this matter. They are best placed to advise you on employment discrimination and private/personal questions in the workplace.


Hi Molly_1,

I agree with Sarah. I can't see any evidence that you have been discriminated against, you have no "privacy" rights against people talking about you behind your back, I'm not sure you can establish the requisite elements of defamation. The best course in these situations is generally to approach the people involved first - ie. your supervisor and request an explanation and then let her know how it is affecting you and making you feel.

If however this were not an isolated event, but part of a larger campaign of harassment or bullying by your supervisor then you may have grounds to complain.