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Religion and religious dress


Religious dress discrimination in South Australian law

South Australian law does not cover religion in general but covers the wearing of religious dress, in work and education only.

In South Australian law, it is unlawful to treat a person unfavourably in their work or their education because they wear dress or adornments that are required by or symbolic of their religion. For example, a school could not send a Muslim student to detention because she refused to remove her hijab.


  • where the religious dress would present a safety hazard
  • where it is reasonable to require a person to show their face for identification purposes
  • where standards of dress or appearance are reasonably required for employment
  • a school that is administered by a particular religion may prevent students from wearing dress or adornments of another religion

In general, employers may set reasonable dress requirements for the workplace.

Religious discrimination in Commonwealth law

Commonwealth law covers this ground of discrimination only in the area of work.

In Commonwealth law, it is unlawful to treat a person unfavourably in their work because of their religion. This includes refusing to hire them, hiring them on less favourable terms, denying them access to any benefits that go with the job, dismissing them or subjecting them to other adverse treatment. A complaint can be made to the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Australian Human Rights Commission, with different consequences.


Complaints can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission or the Equal Opportunity Commission. There is no cost to lodge a complaint in either the Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia or the Australian Human Rights Commission. For forms and guides on making a complaint see the websites of the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

For complaints relating to discrimination in employment, claims can may made to the Fair Work Commission, see the Employment chapter of the handbook on protected workplace rights: General Protections.

Religion and religious dress  :  Last Revised: Mon Nov 17th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.