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Feigning normality since 1973

Gender discrimination case

Filed in: Misc.

Blokes-only barber faces sex discrimination case

Swan Barbers says it has a policy of not cutting women's hair.

This infuriated student Maddy Drew who had been a loyal customer of Swan Barbers for five years. In May, everything changed when the barber, a woman, refused to cut Drew's hair.

"She said to me she couldn't serve me because I was a woman. She said it was company policy." ...

... It is an offence under the Human Rights Act to deny services to someone because of their race, colour, ethnic or national origin.

Drew's case will test the principle in terms of gender. Her sexual discrimination claim against Swan Barbers goes to mediation on August 24.

I completely agree it should be illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, however my question is: assuming her case succeeds, what will this mean for all of the women-only gyms? Will they be forced to allow men to join or face possible prosecution?

Posted August 14, 2006 6:41 PM


Better still, take on the Freemasons, with their Men Only policy. :)

Or, hey, what about public toilets? (Not that women would probably *want* to go into a men's loo...)

Posted by: Thad | August 15, 2006 9:38 AM

Public toilets usually supply women's loos as well as men's, so they should be all right.

A case against the Freemasons would be interesting. :)

Posted by: Alden Bates | August 15, 2006 9:50 AM

There is the Order of the Nine Sisters lodge for women. But there might also be a loop hole as to "deny services" in that are the Freemasons a "service" organisation?

(There is also the restriction in Freemasons that a man has to be a religious discrimination okay? ... I recall an article a while ago about a boss that refused to pay up after a court case because it was against his religion...)

Posted by: Thad | August 15, 2006 11:27 AM

According to the Human Rights commission site discrimination on the grounds of gender is illegal!

Of course, if you follow the link for "sex", there's a list of exceptions. I'm guessing the barber would fall under "nature of skill", if the employees haven't been trained in cutting women's hair (I suspect that's unlikely!).

Not sure if the Freemasons falls under any of the exceptions, although it says "any of the prohibited areas of public life." so it could be that the Freemasons is exempt because it's a private organisation?

Posted by: Alden Bates | August 15, 2006 12:43 PM

I think the difference here is ..

.. loyal customer ... for five years.

I'm all for equal rights, and in this case it sounds as if there was more going on that simply denying her because she was a woman. After all, how could it be company policy if she had in fact been a loyal customer for so long?

But there are many times when I feel people should keep their preaching to a minimum, such as the woman who decided that Maori traditions were sexist simply because of where she was asked to sit.

Posted by: krome.obsession | August 20, 2006 11:26 PM

From the news item:
In the past, the staff at Swan Barbers told her that while it was against company policy to cut women's hair, they'd cut hers if no one in management was looking.

So I guess in this case it might just have been that management was monitoring them. Or possibly the staff member was new. In either case, it seems she was aware there was a chance they might not be willing to cut her hair on any given occasion...

Posted by: Alden Bates | August 23, 2006 3:04 PM

The results are in, and Swan Barbers has changed it's policy to allow women to get haircuts as well. Good on them!

Posted by: Alden Bates | August 24, 2006 6:16 PM

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