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When Can A Business Discriminate

When Can A Business Discriminate

On occasion you may see an advertisement that calls on applicants for a job from a particular background or gender. You might also know of clubs or businesses that cater specifically to a certain group or groups of people. This is, on face value, discrimination. As a very general rule, businesses and other groups are not allowed to discriminate.

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 protects individuals and groups from a range of discriminatory behaviour. However not all discrimination is illegal, some general exemptions exist, such as, but not limited to

  • the protections of public health;
  • the protection of workplace health and safety;
  • religious bodies and activities;
  • charities; and
  • sports.

Some of these exemptions are wide ranging, others are very narrow in their application.

However on occasion a business or group will wish to partake in activities that would offend the Anti-Discrimination Act and are not covered by any listed exemption in the Act. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) is able to provide specified exemption for a period of up to five years, which may be renewed. In doing so, QCAT takes into considerations many factors.

Exemptions have been granted in the past for matters such as

  • Relationship status
    • Where the applicant requested the Tribunal to allow it to discriminate on the basis of relationships status in the terms on which insurance is supplied.
  • Gender
    • Where the applicant wished to advertise for the recruitments and appointment of female employees for correctional facilities.
  • Gender
    • To allow a fitness centre to have female only centres of mixed gender centres with female only areas.
  • Age
    • To restrict the entitlement to purchase land at a village to persons over 50 years of age.

Exemptions are by no means guaranteed. Should a business wish to commit to an act that may breach anti-discrimination laws, it is advisable to seek legal advice first. It may be that the action is covered by a general exemption, or that a business would have to apply for an exemption to QCAT.

Seek Legal Advice 

McNamara & Associates can assist your business in a wide range of commercial pursuits. If you have a business of commercial question, contact McNamara & Associates on 1300 574 974.