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Communtity Law Manual | Discrimination | Shops, banks and other businesses

Jobs, shops, flats and other 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 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 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 the chapter “Disability rights”, under “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.)
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