What is unjustifiable hardship?

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) are laws which protect the rights of people with disabilities. These laws mean that people with disabilities have the right to use and access the community in the same way as everybody else. This includes public places (like shops or parks), services (like healthcare), education (like school, TAFE or university) and jobs.

If a public place (like a shop or park) is not accessible because of your disability, you can complain to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission. They can use laws the EOA and DDA to help you. They might get the place or service to fix the problem. For example, they might ask them to build a ramp or add Braille to signs.

But the place or service doesn’t always have to fix every accessibility problem. They don’t have to fix the problem if it would be too hard. It might be too hard because of:

  • High costs
  • Safety
  • There is nothing that can fix the problem
  • Fixing the problem will make another accessibility problem
  • Fixing the problem would mean the place or service can’t do what it needs to do

When fixing a problem would be too hard, this is called ‘unjustifiable hardship’. If a court says that fixing a problem would cause unjustifiable hardship, the problem doesn’t need to be fixed. But if fixing a problem would cause only small issue (like a cost the company can pay), the court will usually say they have to fix it.