There are certain situations when it is permissible to choose a person with certain characteristics for employment and access to goods in services, including housing. If there are good reasons to do so, it will not be considered discriminatory where preference in such situations was given to a person of a particular sex, ethnic origin etc.

Necessary requirements

There may be certain situations where the nature of a particular job or the provision of goods and services requires a person (an employee or a client) to possess particular characteristics. In such case the employer or the service provider is required to show that he/she really needs to deal with a man or a woman, a person of a certain age or ethnic background in the particular situation. This exception is known as genuine requirement and if there are good reasons for such selectivity, it is not considered discriminatory.

example If the owner of a Chinese restaurant wants to show his/her restaurant is authentic, it may justify the hiring of people of that ethnic background as cooks or waiters. A shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence may also justify employing women in the shelter if these victims have suffered at the hands of their male partners. A theatre performance may also require characters of a certain age.

Sufficient reasons

An employer or service provider must give sufficient reasons why a person with particular characteristics is required for the job, otherwise the prohibition of discrimination will be violated. For such requirements to be proportionate, justification must be given for each particular position.

example An employer cannot just say that his or her clients are racists, and, therefore, he or she does not hire black people. Where the owner of a Chinese restaurant wants to show his/her restaurant is authentic, he/she cannot then justify hiring only Chinese accountants.

Read more about discrimination in employment or the provision of goods and services, including housing.


Last updated 23/01/2019