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Individual rights & freedoms

Areas of life where discrimination is illegal

Shops, banks and other businesses

Human Rights Act 1993, s 44

It’s illegal for a business to refuse to deal with you or to treat you less favourably than other people on any of the illegal grounds of discrimination. This includes not just shops but also banks, loan companies, and finance or insurance companies.

It’s also illegal for any business to refuse to let you enter their premises based on an illegal ground of discrimination if it’s a place that’s otherwise open to the public – like a cinema or bus.

Exceptions that allow discrimination by shops and businesses

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 43, 45–52

There are many exceptions in this area. These are some of them:

  • Disabilities – Facilities and services don’t have to be provided in special ways for people with disabilities if it would be unreasonable to require this. It’s also legal to refuse access to a person with a disability if their disability or illness presents a risk (including a risk of infection) to that person or others, but not if the risk can be reduced to a normal level without unreasonable disruption. For more information, see: “Access to shops, transport and other services”.
  • Insurance – Insurance companies can discriminate on the basis of sex, disability or age.
  • Lower charges – A person can be charged less for goods and services on the basis of their age, disability or employment status. (This is positive discrimination.)
Next Section | Renting a flat

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Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission website provides information about human rights in Aotearoa and outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone:  0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint

Human Rights Review Tribunal

This website provides information about the tribunal and the hearing process and contains the relevant application forms.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights

Make a claim to the Human Rights Review Tribunal: www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/human-rights/make-a-claim

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings

The Office of Human Rights Proceedings can provide free legal representation to people wanting to bring unlawful discrimination proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz/about-us/office-of-human-rights-proceedings
Email: ohrp@ohrp.org.nz
Phone: 09 375 8623

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