Discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation

Jobs and employment

Employers can't discriminate against you

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 21-35

Employers can't refuse to employ you, or treat you worse, pay you less or fire you, because of your sex, gender or sexual orientation.

They also can't ask questions (in interviews or application forms) that make it sound like they might discriminate on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, or advertise in a way that sounds like they will do that.

If there's a gendered uniform, you're allowed to choose which one to wear.

Exceptions: When employers can legally discriminate against you

Human Rights Act 1993, s 22-41

There are some exceptions where discrimination is legally allowed – here are some of the more common ones:

  • If you're working mostly overseas in a country where there are strict rules on sex and gender roles
  • If there's a genuine reason a person of a particular gender must do the job (like a movie role written for a woman)
  • If it's a domestic role in a private household (like a nanny or cleaner)
  • If there's a privacy requirement, like there's on-site accommodation for only one gender
  • If the job is a counsellor for highly personal matters like sexuality or violence
  • If the position is a religious one and that religion has gender rules.

For more information, see the chapter “Discrimination”, under “Jobs and employment”.

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